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“You Want War? We’ll Give It To You”: Rand Paul Ready For ‘War’ Over 2016 Debates

When it comes to foreign policy, Rand Paul isn’t eager to launch any new wars. When it comes to 2016 debates, it’s a different story.

The next gathering for the Republican presidential field will be Thursday night, when candidates participate in their sixth debate. The Fox Business Network announced last night that seven of the remaining candidates have been invited to the prime-time event: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich. That leaves Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum, who have been relegated to the kids-table undercard debate.

The Kentucky senator, who has been on the main stage for each of the first five debates, had already vowed to skip this week’s event if he were blocked from the prime-time gathering, and as of late yesterday, Paul and his campaign team intend to follow through on that threat.

But Paul also talked to the Washington Post in more detail about his frustrations.

…Paul reiterated that the “arbitrary, capricious polling standard” had been a source of disgust for the grassroots, dubbing it a story of media political bias.

“It won’t take much for our supporters to understand why we’re doing this,” Paul said. “You want war? We’ll give it to you.”

What’s unclear is what in the world that means.

To be sure, the senator’s complaints have some merit. As Rachel noted on the show last night, when the Fox networks host these gatherings, “they’re notoriously woolly about their qualifying criteria for their debate…. They don’t get that specific about how they’re going to do it.”

It’s a little tough for Paul – or anyone else, for that matter – to lash out at Fox for being biased against Republican presidential campaigns, but the senator’s concerns about statistical methodology are harder to dismiss.

But when Paul says he and his supporters are prepared for “war,” it’s an open question as to what they have in mind. Protests? Angry tweets? Will Paul pull a page from Alan Keyes’ 1996 playbook and try to join a debate to which he hasn’t been invited?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 11, 2016

January 12, 2016 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primary Debates, Rand Paul | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Shock Endorsement”: How Desperate Is Rand Paul? He’s Calling In Daddy For Help

Look at all of you, thinking Rand Paul’s presidential campaign was going nowhere but downward, in both polling support and money. Quite a feint that Rand Paul put out there, getting you all clucking. But the last laugh will be his. Because on Friday, Rand Paul trotted out a shock endorsement that threatens to upend the state of the race, the future of the country, the alignment of the planets, the mysteries of God.

Ron Paul has endorsed Rand Paul.

The two have some connections, so perhaps we should have seen this coming. Ron Paul served in Congress for years, just as Rand Paul has. Each are Republicans but gravitate towards libertarianism. Each has run for president. It’s also the case that Rand Paul’s mother is literally married to Ron Paul and they have a son and that son is Rand Paul. Still: pretty big endorsement here.

“Endorsement” is at least how Reason magazine is putting it, which is an effective framing job although perhaps not the most accurate. Ron Paul has always supported his son’s campaign, because he is his son. He was there with Rand at the campaign launch, in a mostly silent role. His role has been nearly totally silent as the campaign has progressed, though. As the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel writes, it’s more accurate to call this Ron Paul’s first pitch on Rand’s behalf for donations, over four months into the process.

Here’s a sampling of some of the slick #content within this email:

Rand is the ONLY one in the race who is standing up for your Liberty, across the board….he is our best hope to restore liberty, limited government and the Bill of Rights and finally end the big spending status quo in Washington, D.C….

Remember, truth is treason in the empire of lies. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to Washington, D.C. and their media mouthpieces.

Even where Rand and I do have minor differences of opinion, I would take Rand’s position over any of his opponents’ in both parties every time…

Rand must be heartened to have his father’s full-throated public support and fundraising prowess at his back. But it’s the best symbol yet of how Paul’s political career has come full-circle: from niche politician to breakout GOP star and back to niche politician — and one who has little hope of growing his support for the nomination much further.

Leading up to the presidential cycle, much of the chatter about Rand Paul surrounded how he would utilize his “wild card” father, if at all. It was Ron Paul’s noisy base of supporters who raised him an awful lot of money for his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and who boosted Rand Paul to his surprising Senate primary victory in 2010. As Rand’s ambitions went higher though — he wanted to run for president with a chance to win, and not as a niche candidate in the style of his father — he had to move towards the party mainstream without abandoning his libertarian base.

That didn’t work very well. The rise of ISIS closed off whatever interest Republicans might have had in a slightly less military interventionist foreign policy. Rand sensed the winds changing and has tried several times to appease the party’s hawks, who do not and will not ever trust him, in the meantime turning some of his libertarian base against them. He has tried to walk the narrow line between mainstream acceptability and libertarian fire and failed.

And now he doesn’t have much money, or anything to lose, so he might as well trot out his father despite all the risks that entails.

It will be something when Rand Paul fares much, much worse in the early states this time than his father did in the early states in 2012. That’s not the way it was supposed to be.

 

By: Jim Newell, Salon, August 17, 2015

 

August 18, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Rand Paul, Ron Paul | , , , , , | 8 Comments

“Rand Paul, Falling Flat”: The Candidate Everyone Thought Could Change The Republican Party Is Completely Collapsing

The moment one veteran Republican strategist realized Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was flailing as a presidential candidate came when he suddenly decided to take on Donald Trump last week at the first presidential debate.

Challenging Trump’s refusal to pledge support for the eventual nominee should have been a moment that earned Paul some credibility among Republicans frustrated with Trump’s rise.

But it ended up falling flat.

“It just missed the mark,” the strategist said. “He didn’t give off a good vibe doing it.”

Last fall, Time magazine declared Paul the “most interesting man in politics” and stamped him on its cover. Paul launched his campaign earlier this year pledging that he was a “different kind of Republican.”

Four months later, though it’s still early in a crowded, fluid race, it’s clear that many Republicans want different — but not him.

His campaign is struggling to keep up with his rivals in fundraising. Two of his political allies running an outside super PAC supporting his candidacy were recently indicted on campaign-finance fraud charges. Significant plunges in polling are starting to correspond.

And Trump has an aggressive counterpunch. In a raging statement responding to Paul, the real-estate tycoon took him to task for running for reelection to the Senate at the same time he’s campaigning for president.

“I feel sorry for the great people of Kentucky who are being used as a back up to Senator Paul’s hopeless attempt to become President of the United States — weak on the military, Israel, the Vets and many other issues. Senator Paul has no chance of wining the nomination and the people of Kentucky should not allow him the privilege of remaining their Senator,” Trump said.

Trump further called Paul’s operation a “total mess” and said the senator should leave the race.

“Rand should save his lobbyist’s and special interest money and just go quietly home,” he declared. “Rand’s campaign is a total mess, and as a matter of fact, I didn’t know he had anybody left in his campaign to make commercials who are not currently under indictment!”

Polls trickling out after the debate have underscored the challenge ahead for Paul and have led to speculation that he could be one of a handful of GOP candidates who drops out before the Iowa caucuses next year.

Paul now sits just ninth in the first-caucus state of Iowa, according to an average of three polls of the state that have been released this week. One of those polls, from Suffolk University, showed his support plunging to just 2% of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa. That put him behind such candidates as Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who has been diverting most of his early-state resources to New Hampshire.

Iowa will be especially important for Paul, whose father, Ron, scored with its voters during his previous presidential runs. Matt Kibbe, the director of one super PAC supporting Rand Paul, told Politico in July that the group only had paid staff in Iowa because “it matters so much.”

But Paul hasn’t shown many signs that he will successfully hold onto his father’s voters, let alone significantly expand upon that base. And the indictment of the two allies, which stems from their work on Ron Paul’s campaign in 2012, revolves around an alleged money-for-endorsement scheme involving former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson (R), who already pleaded guilty to concealing campaign expenditures.

A Public Policy Polling survey released this week showed Rand Paul with the worst net-favorability rating among all GOP candidates. His standing in Iowa has plunged from 10% in April to just 3% now.

“The biggest loser in the poll is Rand Paul,” PPP director Tom Jensen wrote. “Paul’s been foundering anyway, and his campaign’s ties to the Kent Sorenson mess are probably making things particularly bad for him in Iowa.”

Things aren’t looking much better in New Hampshire, where Paul was thought to potentially capitalize on its independent-leaning primary electorate, and where his father had two strong showings.

According to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll released this week, Paul has seen his favorability rating dip from a positive 57-24 margin in March to a negative 44-45 margin in August. His support in the state also plunged from 13% in March to just 6% now. It put him behind better-funded candidates investing significant resources into the Granite State, like Kasich (12%) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (13%).

During the Republican presidential debate last week, Paul used polls as a major selling point for why Republicans should support his candidacy.

“I’m the only one that leads Hillary Clinton in five states that were won by President Obama. I’m a different kind of Republican,” he said in his closing statement.

But the polls he’s referring to are from March and April. Perhaps in a sign of his diminished standing, the same polling outlet that found him leading Clinton narrowly in those states — Quinnipiac University — instead measured Clinton’s strength against Republican candidates Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in a poll conducted earlier this month.

“His campaign has been in free-fall,” said Greg Valliere, the chief political strategist at the Potomac Research Group, of Paul’s debate performance.

“Paul didn’t help himself much last night.”

 

By: Brett LoGiurato, Business Insider, August 15, 2015

August 17, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primary Debates, Rand Paul | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Republicans In Need Of A Reagan Refresher”: Pointing To Reagan As Some Kind Of Platonic Ideal Is Ridiculous

A couple of weeks ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) presidential campaign launched a new television ad, condemning the international nuclear agreement. The funny part, however, was Christie’s argument that Obama should have followed the example set by … Ronald Reagan.

The subject came up again last night, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was asked whether he’s prepared to abandon the U.S. commitment to the diplomatic deal on the first day of his imaginary presidency. The senator replied:

“I oppose the Iranian deal, and will vote against it. I don’t think that the president negotiated from a position of strength, but I don’t immediately discount negotiations. I’m a Reagan conservative.”

Paul went on to note that Reagan negotiated with the USSR, which is proof that the United States can engage in talks with our foes, though Paul opposes the Iran deal anyway for reasons he didn’t specify.

A little later in the debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also added a dash of Ronaldus Magnus and Iran. Responding to a question on cyber-security, the Republican senator said, “It is worth emphasizing that Iran released our hostages in 1981 the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.”

It’s worth emphasizing that Cruz’s story is based on a GOP fairy tale.

Regardless, the underlying point remains the same: when it comes to U.S. policy towards Iran, the current crop of Republican presidential candidates keep pointing to Reagan as the model for contemporary leaders to follow. Perhaps they haven’t thought this through.

Let’s again set the record straight: the Reagan White House illegally tried to sell weapons to Iran in order to help finance an illegal war in Central America. It was one of the biggest scandals in American history. Much of Reagan’s national-security team ended up under criminal indictment.

At one point in 1986, Reagan delivered a nationally televised address in which he looked at the camera and promised Americans the scandal wasn’t true. Four months later, he was forced to deliver another televised address, conceding the fact that his claims in the first one weren’t true.

I can appreciate why Republicans find all of this quite inconvenient now, and why the right may prefer to wipe the scandal from the party’s collective memories, but when the subject of U.S. policy towards Iran comes up, pointing to Reagan as some kind of Platonic ideal is ridiculous.

 

By: Steven Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 7, 2015

August 8, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Primary Debates, Rand Paul, Ronald Reagan | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“I’ll See Your Chainsaw And Raise You A Semi Automatic”: GOP Candidates Are Finding It Difficult To Capture The Spotlight

Two weeks ago, Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) presidential campaign, eager to generate some interest in its message, released an unfortunate video. The 51-second clip showed Paul, looking and sounding a bit like a used-car salesman, setting fire to large stacks of paper, putting the paper through a wood-chipper, and literally using the chainsaw.

It was supposed to have something to do with federal tax policy.

That, of course, set a fairly high bar for presidential candidates doing silly things to generate attention for themselves. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), do you have a rebuttal?

“There are few things I enjoy more than on weekends cooking breakfast with the family,” Cruz opens the video. Raw bacon and aluminum foil are then wrapped around the barrel of a machine gun at a firing range.

“Of course in Texas, we cook bacon a little differently than most folks,” Cruz says.

The far-right senator appears to have partnered with IJReivew, a conservative site, for the video called, “Making Machine-Gun Bacon with Ted Cruz.” The minute-long clip is online here.

The video proceeds roughly as one might expect: the raw bacon “cooks” as Cruz fires the gun. When he’s done with target practice, the senator removes the foil, takes a bite with a fork, and laughs. “Mmm, machine-gun bacon,” he says.

For the record, I’m not entirely sure if this actually is a “machine gun.” More knowledgeable sources can (and should) check me on this, but I was under the impression that machine guns are fully automatic, firing bullets quickly. The far-right senator appears to be firing one bullet with each pull of the trigger. It seems like a relevant detail – if Cruz doesn’t know what a machine gun is, this video may prove to be more embarrassing than intended.

Regardless, whether or not this video is better than Cruz’s tryout for “The Simpsons” is a matter of taste.

As for the larger context, this is apparently what it means to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015.

In a massive field of 17 candidates, which is currently led by a former reality-show host who has never sought or held public office, GOP candidates are finding it increasingly difficult to capture the spotlight. Looking “presidential” is nice, but it’s also evidently dull.

And so we’ve reached the curious combination of candidates, chainsaws, and raw meat on gun barrels.

What’s more, it’s only early August. What the YouTube clips will look like in, say, November, is anybody’s guess.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 3, 2015

August 4, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz | , , , , , | 3 Comments

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