Ron Paul World remains deeply divided over Sen. Rand Paul’s recent endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.A quick glance around the online universe of the Ron Paul Revolution reveals that many of the most ardent Paul supporters are still shocked and saddened by the endorsement, which they see as the ultimate betrayal of the elder Paul’s grassroots libertarian movement.
For more pragmatic Paulites, however, the surprise endorsement was a shrewd political ploy that puts the younger Paul front and centre in the national spotlight, and positions him as a leading figure in the Republican Party, with his eyes set on 2016.
James Milliman, Sen. Paul’s state director, explained the logic to a group of Young Republicans in Louisville, Ky., last week:
“As a practical matter, you have to endorse a candidate before the convention — Romney is going to get the nomination, no doubt about that at all, so it behooves everyone to have Sen. Paul to endorse him before the convention,” Milliman said. “It could enable Sen. Paul to have a prime speaking role at the convention, and his dad to have a prime speaking role at the convention. I think those things factored in.”
The remarks — the Paul team’s most candid comments yet regarding the endorsement — appear to suggest that the younger Paul is more concerned with attaining star status within the GOP than with retaining his father’s army of diehard fans.
Sen. Paul underscored his intentions this weekend during an appearance at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, an annual confab of right-leaning Christian leaders that is viewed by many as a launching pad for conservative politicians.
In a speech to the Coalition gathering on Saturday, Sen. Paul emphasised his efforts to push pro-life legislation in the Senate, and even called for a “spiritual reawakening” in the United States — a decidedly red-meat rallying cry that catered directly to an audience of religious conservatives.
“I think our problems, though, are worse and deeper and more profound than just political leaders can correct. I think we really are in a spiritual crisis as a country. And we need a reawakening. We need a revival,” Sen. Paul said, according to CBS News. “I think we are wavering. And there are many moral issues that confront us.”
He said later that he left his church in Kentucky because they were too passive in their fight against abortion, adding: “I think we will ultimately be judged on whether we participated, whether we tried to defend life.”
The younger Paul’s willingness to pander to the Republican Party’s far-right conservative base reveals a political intuition and skill that was notably absent from his father’s political career. Although Ron Paul is against abortion, his refusal to market this position has been a source of constant consternation among his socially conservative supporters.
Although it is too early to know for sure, early signs indicate that Paul’s political gamble may be working in his favour. Several evangelical leaders have told Business Insider that they were impressed by Paul’s speech over the weekend, and that they look forward to hearing more from the Kentucky Senator.
“He’s going to be very formidable,” one prominent Christian leader told Business Insider. “Rand Paul is definitely moving.”
Despite the younger Paul’s political pandering, Ron Paul also appears to be on board with his son’s new strategy.
“Rand would not have done this without his dad’s OK,” Milliman told the Louisville Young Republicans. “So if his dad is fine with it, I think everybody else will be fine with it.”
Watch the video of Milliman below, courtesy of Insight Channel 2:
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