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Rand Paul Isn’t Leading The Republican Pack

Bloomberg View Memo Pad Politics

Rand Paul Isn’t Leading The Republican Pack


Dec. 5 (Bloomberg View) — The Fix’s new rankings for Republican presidential candidates are out. Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake pick Senator Rand Paul as the most likely nominee.

I’ve excluded Paul (and Ted Cruz, ranked No. 8 by Cillizza and Blake) from my list of plausible nominees. Do I need to revisit the question? Sorry, still not buying it.

Here’s the case The Fix makes:

No one rolls their eyes anymore. Paul has a unique activist and fundraising base thanks to his dad’s two runs for president, and has shown considerable savvy in his outreach efforts to the establishment end of the party over the past few years … Paul is the candidate furthest along in the planning process for president and the one with the most current strength in early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

I don’t see much there. Of the four attributes listed, three — unique base, early planning, strength in early states — are exactly what was said about Ron Paul in 2012. Given that Ron Paul never had a realistic chance against a very weak field, I’m not convinced that we should think much of Rand Paul’s chances.

That leaves the question of whether the rest of the party is more interested in Rand Paul 2016 than it was in Ron Paul 2012. Not whether Paul has been “savvy” in selling himself, but whether anyone is buying.

I remain highly skeptical and will have to see some explicit support from important party actors outside of the Paul orbit (and outside of Kentucky, where he and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have developed a working relationship). We know that Paul will have some important opponents within the party, especially on national security. He’s going to need some serious supporters to overcome that. And given the large, strong group of contenders, I just can’t imagine why any (non-libertarian) group of party actors would take on that battle.

I understand the math: It’s a large field and Paul is more or less guaranteed to get 20 percent of the vote in Iowa and New Hampshire. All he needs then is to exceed his father’s performance by a few thousand votes and he could easily capture those early states against a splintered group of Republicans. That’s an illusion. There probably won’t be a dozen candidates in Iowa; Republicans have efficiently winnowed their field pre-Iowa for several cycles. But it doesn’t matter; even if Paul wins with 25 percent of the vote in Iowa, he’s not going to win the nomination unless he can eventually reach more than 50 percent. And as long as a substantial clot of party actors opposes his candidacy and most of the rest are indifferent at best, he’s not going to get the favorable publicity he needs to do that.

Yes, lots of candidates at this stage of the process haven’t demonstrated their ability to win over half of the primary vote. Mitt Romney hadn’t last time. But the opposition to Paul, and the policy differences between Paul and most of the party, are far deeper than was the case with Romney in 2012.

Show me evidence Paul is attracting support from mainstream conservatives, and I’ll start believing he’s a viable nominee. Until then, he’s an implausible longshot.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr



  1. Independent1 December 6, 2014

    As Jonathon excludes Paul from his “plausible list”, Paul pulls a shrewd move and announces that he’s going to run for “re-election” to the Senate in 2016. However, The Fix, isn’t convinced that this means that Paul has really given up his aspirations to run for President.

    See these excerpts from a Washington Post article:

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that he is running for reelection in 2016. This might come as a surprise to people who assumed he would run for president in that same election year.

    These two things, though, are not mutually exclusive.

    Sometimes they can be. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), for instance, also faces reelection in 2016 — but in a swing state. He bowed out of running for president just hours before Paul made his announcement. Ditto Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who will have a very important decision to make in his own right. Both of these guys would have been hard-pressed to seek both offices.

    But Paul’s case — and Kentucky as a state — is different.

    Firstly, it’s important to note that Democrats held on to the state House this year, which means Paul can’t count on his first, best option: the state legislature changing the law to allow him to run for both reelection and for president (not every state prohibits this, but Kentucky does).

    As a fallback, the state GOP could look at changing their presidential primary into a caucus. Paul could also sue to overturn the law preventing him from being on the ballot twice. Another option broached by Shane Goldmacher is defeating Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in 2015 and installing a new Republican secretary of state who might be kinder to Paul’s cause.

    But Paul doesn’t technically need any of that.

    That’s because the 2016 Kentucky Senate primary is May 17 — at least three months after the first presidential primary contests. And given Kentucky is a pretty red state that Democrats might or might not target at the Senate level, Paul has more room to maneuver than Portman or Rubio.

    See more if you’e interested at this link:


    1. plc97477 December 6, 2014

      I think rand paul is just savvy enough to realize that the gotp has no chances in 2016 and is saving himself for a better year.

      1. Independent1 December 6, 2014

        That could well be! Maybe he read the article by the GOP columnist from a Houston paper who summed up his article this way: “It is almost too late for Republicans to participate in shaping the next wave of our economic and political transformation. The opportunities we inherited coming out of the Reagan Era are blinking out of existence one by one while we chase so-called “issues” so stupid, so blindingly disconnected from our emerging needs that our grandchildren will look back on our performance in much the same way that we see the failures of the generation that fought desegregation. Something, some force, some gathering of sane, rational, authentically concerned human beings generally at peace with reality must emerge in the next four to six years from the right, or our opportunity will be lost for a long generation. Needless to say, Greg Abbott and Jodi Ernst are not that force. ‘Winning’ this election did not help that force emerge.”

        An excerpt from:

        GOP Columnist: The VERY Bad News FOR THE GOP in the GOP’s Midterm Victory


  2. Water Dude December 6, 2014

    Hussein Obama’s criminal regime is offensive to the Constitutional order of the United States.

    1. ericlipps December 6, 2014

      Even assuming you were right about President Obama and his “régime” (I disagree), what does that have to do with who gets to ride the elephant in 2016?

      1. EriktheRed December 7, 2014

        Nothing. He just felt like coming in and pissing on the rug, hence his screen name.

    2. Independent1 December 6, 2014

      Criminal regime?? Hardly – Obama has taken actions to get around Congress FAR LESS frequently than ANY GOP PRESIDENT SINCE 1900, except maybe Bush 1. Virtually EVERY OTHER GOP PRESIDENT has issued more than TWICE, the Executive Orders to get what they wanted done around Congress than Obama.

      And despite all the EOs they signed: Teddy Roosevelt more than 1,000; Calvin Coolidge more than 1,200, Dwight Eisenhower more than 400; Ronald Reagan more than 350, Bush 2 more than 250- None of them, in fact, ALL OF THEM PUT TOGETHER!! Did not accomplish in 8 years what Barack Obama has accomplished in less than 6.

      Here’s just a minor sample:

      1) The longest stretch of continuous positive jobs growth in
      America’s history – 57 months and counting.

      2) The tripling of the stock market in 5 plus years with it reaching levels NEVER SEEN BEFORE!!

      3) Managing America’s energy sector such that TODAY, America is the largest distributor of energy on the planet FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY!!

      4) Rounding up and deporting more troublesome illegal aliens
      that have been costing America billions THAN ALL THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS COMBINED!!

      5) Revitalizing America’s largest manufacturing sector, the Auto
      Industry, such that it’s recording profits that haven’t been seen since Clinton was in office.

      6) Reducing deficit spending FURTHER and FASTER than an previous president IN HISTORY (reducing deficit spending more than 1T/yr in 5 budgets)!!

      7) Reducing the unemployment rate further and faster than an
      previous PRESIDENT IN HISTORY!! (From 10.1% to below 5.8% in less than 6 years.)

      8) Starting a war on fraud in the defense and healthcare sectors
      which has resulted in bringing more fraud crooks to justice and recovering more illegally gotten government money than the last 3 presidents combined.

      9) Pushing for a stimulus in 2009 that not only helped keep
      America out of a depression but also invigorated the alternative energy sector to create alternatives to fossil fuels (solar, wind, hydro, tidal and plasma) that will greatly reduce demand for oil and coal in the near future; greatly helping the world’s efforts to combat global warming.

      10) He was successful in getting legislation passed that revises
      the rules health insurers must follow in providing insurance to Americans (ACA/Obamacare); which has not only already saved more than 15,000 people their lives (which can be documented), but is also saving hospitals and many states, including the red state of Arizona, billions of dollars in reduced costs because there are millions fewer Americans that are now uninsured.

      1. 788eddie December 7, 2014

        Thank you Independant1 for your timely fact-filled and thoughtful response.

        See, rabid right-wingers do have a purpose in this world.

    3. howa4x December 6, 2014

      blah blah blah

    4. jmprint December 8, 2014

      SO are you dude, you are very offensive to me.

    5. ericlipps December 8, 2014

      More so than the Bush regime, which at a time when Dubya’s poll numbers were tanking openly hinted it might “postpone” the 2004 election if there were another 9-11-style attack?

      My hair stood on end when I heard that, and I half expected the Bushies to engineer such an attack (or allow one to happen). We may have been save from that only by the fact that Bush’s poll numbers went back up.

  3. ericlipps December 6, 2014

    Rand Paul will never get the GOP nomination. He’s merely eccentric, not howling-at-the-moon crazy, so he won’t appeal to “the base,” and he’s not rich enough to appeal to apex GOP’ers. Look for someone “safe” like Mitt Romney (though probably not Mitt “I strapped my dog tothe car roof and took off for Canada” Romney himself, especially since he’d have to run away from his own health care program even harder than in 2012) or John McCain (though not McCain himself—too old, and there’s that embarrassing opposition to torture).

    Not Sarah Palin, either; she’s useful for getting the crazies excited and voting, but the corporate types won’t back a freak-show right-winger any more than they will a libertarian like Rand Paul—they might like such a person’s pro-business stance, but there’s all that other stuff. They want someone just like themselves, or at least someone who lives on the same planet.

    1. Independent1 December 6, 2014

      Good recap!! I’m hard pressed to see any current GOP wannabee who really stands out as having a chance in 2016; even Jeb Bush seems a long shot given all the political baggage that he’s carrying.

    2. Dominick Vila December 7, 2014

      I expect Jeb Bush to be the Republican nominee in 2016, and I would not be surprised if Nikki Haley is his running mate.
      The GOP is not going to nominate another Mitt Romney. Mitt was a disaster for the GOP. They are also not going to nominate a Tea Party radical or anyone considered controversial or prone to 47% remarks. They are going to look for someone with solid conservative credentials, relevant experience, intelligent, articulate, and able to connect with mainstream Americans. The fact that Jeb Bush attended a fund raiser in South Florida, a solid Democratic bastion, was not an innocent coincidence. They sent the DNC an unmistakable message. If we missed its meaning, we deserve to lose. They are taking the 2016 campaign to our turf, and they are not afraid of Hillary or anyone else. I suspect they considered the Columba Bush Mexican American heritage, and the record of the Bush legacy, and concluded that both are easy obstacles to overcome. As incredible as it may seem, those who abhor anything or anyone that comes even close to being a Latino, the likelihood of them not voting for Jeb because doing so would mean having a Latina First Lady, if they are convinced that he is the only one that can deliver the White House to the GOP, will not hesitate to vote for Jeb, the same way they looked the other way when the Gipper granted amnesty and a path to citizenship to 4 million illegal immigrants. As for name recognition, let’s not forget that the only ones who consider the Bush legacy an abject failure are Democrats. I have several Republican (Tea Party) family members, and they all miss the Bush years, and long for a return to the Reagan era. Facts and the record mean nothing to them. Reagan and the Bushes made them feel proud, confident, and comfortable. Nothing else matters.

      1. ericlipps December 7, 2014

        I don’t see it. First, Jeb has to my knowledge expressed no serious interest in a 2016 run. And second, if he were to run and win, it would mean that for 24 of the 32 years between 1989 and 2021—or, potentially, 28 of the 36 years between ’89 and 2025—America would have had a president named either Clinton or Bush.

        It would also mean that for 12 of the 20 years between 2001
        and 2021, or potentially 16 of the 24 between 2001 and 2025, only members of the Bush family occupied the White House. Talk about your presidential dynasties!

        Even Republicans, I think, would choke on that. They’re not that fond of the Bushes!

        1. Dominick Vila December 7, 2014

          You are right about dynasties. I would prefer someone like Elizabeth Warren, but I don’t think that is going to happen. Both parties will go for whomever they believe has the best chance to win.
          As perplexing as it may sound, most of my Republican relatives, friends and neighbors think highly of W!!! They go as far as saying that he kept us safe, in contrast with President Obama who, according to them, allowed an illegal immigrant invasion. When I remind them of 9/11, the answer is that 9/11 was not Bush’s fault. For them, “the buck stops here” applies only to Dems…Remember Iran-Contra? The cut and run in Lebanon? The S&L mess? The Great Recession? Reagan’s amnesty? The near collapse of the U.S. economy? For them that was the work of Democrats or a Devil dependent on who you talk to. Even Sarah Palin is a heroine maligned by vicious liberals, for most Tea Party advocates.

  4. howa4x December 6, 2014

    It is always the issue with Rand Paul about which one are we talking about . He has a political history with contradictory statements .He not only has to explain them, but also whether had any role in the dissemination of his fathers racist newsletters. It should be fun


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