As Republican iconoclast Ron Paul secretly racks up delegates for his insurgent 2012 presidential bid, his son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, is quietly opening up a new phase in the Ron Paul Revolution: He’s getting ready to run for President.
The younger Paul’s prospective campaign is still four, or eight, years away, but the junior Senator appears to be taking all the right steps to position himself for when the time comes. Later this month Rand will return to Iowa — without his father — to deliver the keynote speech at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalitions spring rally — the most obvious indication yet that Sen. Paul has his own presidential ambitions.
“He loves Iowa,” Sen. Paul’s communications director Moira Bagley told Business Insider. “He’s been out there so much, with his dad’s campaign, so he’s really comfortable and really happy with the people out in Iowa, and especially the evangelical groups.”
In fact, Sen. Paul’s overture to Iowa’s social conservatives is evidence of a budding romance between the Kentucky Republican and evangelical leaders, most of whom have never been particularly taken with the elder Paul.
Business Insider has learned that Sen. Paul has even been approached about a possible trip to Israel with Christian activist David Lane, a conservative kingmaker whose “Pastor Policy Briefings” helped launch Mike Huckabee’s political star in 2008.
“Rand Paul is going to inherit his dad’s political assets — he’s going to be very formidable,” Lane told Business Insider. “Structurally, there is something that is happening inside the state Republican parties that will have to be dealt with politically.”
Lane added that the Paul message of fiscal conservatism and limited government dovetail with that of social conservatives, who increasingly see the federal debt as one of the country’s biggest moral ills.
“I disagree with Ron Paul on some things, but I like that he has courage,” said Lane. “He has been a real steward of the money — that’s why I like Rand Paul.”
Lane, who supported Rick Perry and later Newt Gingrich in the 2012 primary, said that he broached the possibility of a trip to Israel with the Senator’s staff as part of a larger discussion about Sen. Paul’s position on the Jewish State, which has been a political landmine for the elder Paul.
“I had heard that Ron Paul and Rand Paul were anti-Israel,” Lane said. “But they explained to me that the position is not anti-Israel — it’s anti-foreign aid….We give a lot more money to Israel’s enemies than we do to Israel.”
Lane emphasised that the trip to Israel is still just an idea that has been thrown around — but the fact that such an idea even exists indicates that Sen. Paul’s potential candidacy is being taken very seriously by conservatives.
Lane’s interest in Rand’s Israel positions also underscores the opportunity that the younger Paul has to rewrite parts of the narrative about the Ron Paul movement, specifically regarding national security and foreign policy issues. Although the two Pauls positions are mostly similar, Rand Paul appears to have the political instincts and finesse that his father so endearingly lacks.
“From my perspective, Rand is certainly more popular” among the evangelical community, Christian TV producer Justin Machacek told Business Insider. “I think he’s from a younger generation and I think he speaks a more modern language. He’s easier to understand, so I think his message is much clearer. Not that it’s a different message from a policy standpoint, but I think his communication style resonates much better.”
Sen. Paul’s political positioning provides some interesting clues about what the Ron Paul Revolution 2.0 might look like. As we have previously written, Ron Paul has built up a powerful national organisation that has been staging quiet coups over local and state GOP Establishments, and is now poised to have a significant delegate presence at the Republican National Convention.
Given that Ron Paul’s own presidential prospects are virtually nonexistent, Rand Paul stands to inherit this formidable movement-cum-campaign organisation when his father retires from Congress at the end of this year.
Which brings us back to Iowa. After this year’s caucus debacle, Ron Paul supporters were elected into almost all of the key leadership posts in the state Republican Party and are expected to deliver him the bulk of Iowa’s RNC delegates, giving the younger Paul powerful allies in the first-in-nation caucus state.
“The best network in the state of Iowa is Ron Paul’s — they are the Republican Party in Iowa,” Iowa conservative leader/talk radio host Steve Deace told Business Insider. “If Rand Paul wants to run for president, he will have that organisation as a huge advantage over everyone else.”
Deace, like a number of other prominent social conservatives, is deeply dissatisfied with Romney, and predicts that the GOP will lose this year’s election to Barack Obama, precipitating Republican “trench warfare” that will reshape the party going into 2016.
“The Republican Party has been paralysed by nostalgia…Republicans are trying to recreate Reagan, but that was 30 years ago — the policies that worked then aren’t going to work now, even if the ideals are the same,” Deace said. “The person who comes along and is able to make the transition to shrinking government, that person will lead the Republican Party for the next generation.”
“That person could be Rand Paul,” he added.
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