Friday, February 15, 2013

Rand Paul Is the Republican to Watch in 2013

I've been thinking as much this last week. I like Rand, and if his recent turn on foreign policy is a longer-term indication, this is someone I could support in 2016.

From Josh Kraushaar, at National Journal:

One of the most intriguing sideplots from Senate Republicans’ successful filibuster blocking Chuck Hagel from becoming Defense Secretary was that one of the GOP ringleaders was recently tagged by critics as someone who shared his more-isolationist worldview.

But freshman Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who openly talks about his presidential ambitions for 2016, is playing the long game – and his politically savvy positioning suggests he’ll be a major national player. Unlike his father, he’s not interested in pursuing ideologically charged issues just for the sake of making a point, he’s learning how to make an impact in Washington.

One senior Republican leadership aide gushed with admiration over the freshman senator, emphasizing that he’s been able to tailor his libertarian ideology toward legislation that holds broader appeal. The adviser touted his involvement on right-to-work legislation, his call to audit the Federal Reserve, and even his leadership on legalizing industrial hemp – legislation first pushed by his father, which has now won support from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Rand is somebody who has the generational know-how to turn it into 21st century machine. He gets branding. He understands there’s a need for credibility,” said the adviser. “He understands he doesn’t have the answers to everything. He’s not afraid of input, but is totally confident in listening to input to help achieve his goals.”

One of the areas where he’s taken a lot of feedback is on foreign policy, which critics have tagged as being synonymous with his father’s controversial views. But in a sign that he’s looking beyond just his next re-election, Paul made a high-profile trip to Israel, gave a foreign policy speech to the Heritage Foundation designed to smooth over the rough edges of his foreign policy worldview, and joined most of his Republican colleagues in blocking Hagel. He reached out to Israel supporters, framing his distaste for overseas interventions as one that would prevent the U.S. from putting undue pressure on Israel, getting a jibe at President Obama in the process.
More at that top link. Rand made that Heritage speech the day before I flew out to North Carolina and I've been meaning to watch on video. I might do that today some time and update with my thoughts. His emerging support for Israel is the clincher for me. His tea party background is already phenomenally appealing. More later.

Meanwhile, see Robert Stacy McCain for more, "Ron Paul Supporters Slam Rand After Republicans Block Hagel Nomination."