Rand Paul’s role in the 2016 Republican primary is to peel off prospective young voters and disenfranchised liberals. So today’s spate of stories about how Rand Paul is being left out in the cold by his billionaires, leaving him short on cash should be viewed for the cynical manipulations they are.
In a presidential campaign defined by billionaire sugar daddy donors, Rand Paul has a problem: He doesn’t seem to have one.
While his rivals cultivate wealthy backers who will pump millions of dollars into their candidacies, Paul has struggled to find a similar lifeline. It’s led to considerable frustration in his campaign, which, amid rising concerns that it will not be able to compete financially, finds itself leaning heavily on the network of small donors who powered his father’s insurgent White House bids.
It hasn’t been for lack of trying. In recent months, Paul has sought to woo a string of powerful Republican megadonors — from Silicon Valley executives to a Kentucky coal mogul to the billionaire Koch brothers — who, it was believed, would be philosophically aligned with his free-market views. In each case, he met disappointment.
The author goes on to name Peter Thiel, Sean Parker and Larry Ellison as three billionaires Rand was counting on for financial help. Alas, Larry Ellison fell in love with Marco Rubio, Thiel is staying out of things for unknown reasons, and Parker is leaning toward Hillary Clinton.
I don’t buy the schtick. Mainstream Republicans wouldn’t let Rand Paul close to the nomination ever, because he doesn’t support the war machine. Given that, they really just want to use him to peel off those younger voters and liberal libertarians. This is why they’re tolerating his “the GOP sucks” nonsense and pretending it’s perfectly all right for him to play Democrat running in the Republican primaries.
Moving on to CNN, whose headline is “Rand Paul: The GOP’s Punching Bag.” This story is also framed for its intended purpose — to appeal to the less-mainstream types in the Republican party and independent category.
Rand Paul has a “kick me” sign on his back — and he put it there himself.
The Kentucky senator and Republican presidential candidate is thrilling his libertarian-leaning base with a campaign against the NSA and stinging criticism of his party’s history of Middle East meddling. But the moves are enraging other Republicans eyeing the White House with his opponents zeroing in on Paul’s comments this week that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party.”
Are we feeling sorry for that poor sad-sack politician yet? Piling on that way, shame on them.
And of course, the Patriot Act reauthorization plays into things here too.
The Paul-hating could come to a head this weekend when the Senate convenes for a rare Sunday session in a last-ditch attempt to prevent key NSA surveillance tactics from lapsing at midnight — something both President Barack Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have sought to avoid.
Paul hasn’t hesitated to deploy every procedural tool available to thwart Senate action, leaving him with no friends on the issue among GOP presidential contenders.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is emerging as Paul’s top antagonist on the NSA and said such a strategy could result in “dangerous and severe consequences.”
On Twitter, the governor slammed “misguided ideologues who have no real world experience in fighting terrorism.”
This is what happens when you’re a hardcore Republican and you pretend you’re not. Yes, the libertarian piece is real, and it’s possible to applaud Rand Paul’s stance on that without actually supporting a guy who has no problem with big government sticking their probes in women’s vaginas.
Finally, we come to Fox News, who actually cut Paul out of their poll graphic even though he ranked higher than the bottom five shown.
Rand Paul may not have a billionaire, but I doubt he really wants one. They’ll come through right after he does. Produce those crossover votes, and Rand will get more billionaire bucks than he knows what to do with.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is officially running for president, but his White House aspirations are just as clumsily implausible as an Ayn Rand plot.
The son of conservative folk hero Ron Paul, the retired Texas congressman and failed Republican presidential candidate, likes to present himself as a civil libertarian.
But his actual positions on many issues are mean-spirited, religiously tinged claptrap that’s reactionary enough to win a GOP primary, but far too hard-right to win a national election.
For example, Paul thinks six months is plenty of time to pay unemployment benefits to jobless workers – and anything beyond that does them a “disservice” by encouraging them to remain unemployed. “I don’t doubt the president’s motives, but black unemployment in America is double white unemployment — and it hasn’t budged under this president. A lot of African-Americans voted for him, but I don’t think it’s worked.”
Paul is against public assistance on a fundamental level, once suggesting the possibility of cutting government benefits for unwed mothers to discourage them from having more children. “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.’” The small-government conservative admitted that would be unpopular and difficult to implement, but he thinks it’s worth a shot. “It’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money, but we have to figure out how to get that message through.”
The libertarian senator’s views on abortion are right in line with the GOP establishment, and the self-certified ophthalmologist touts his professional bona fides to argue that life begins at conception. “I often say in my speeches that I don’t think a civilization can long endure that doesn’t respect the rights of the unborn,” said Paul, who supports fetal personhood legislation that would outlaw abortion and likely prohibit contraception, stem-cell research, and in-vitro fertilization.
Paul also cites the same ridiculous slippery-slope arguments as any religious conservative against same-sex marriage. “If we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further,” Paul said. “Does it have to be humans?” He later claimed his warning against human-animal marriage was sarcastic and pointed to other arguments he made during the same Glenn Beck radio appearance, saying that he opposed marriage equality on economic grounds. “What is it that is the leading cause of poverty in our country? It’s having kids without marriage. The stability of the marriage unit is enormous and we should not just say, ‘Oh, we’re punting on it, marriage can be anything.’”
Paul agreed with Beck during another radio appearance that Obama’s immigration policies would make most Americans “second-class citizens” compared to undocumented migrants. “I’m thinking about lobbying to become an illegal immigrant so I wouldn’t have to participate in Obamacare,” Paul said.
Speaking of the Affordable Care Act, the senator backed the Republican shutdown of the federal government in an ill-fated attempt to defund the health care law – although Paul publicly said he was willing to compromise. “I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re going to win this, I think,” Paul told then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
He used the death of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by officers while selling untaxed cigarettes, to argue against government regulation. “I think it’s hard not to watch that video of him saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ and not be horrified by it,” Paul said. “But I think there’s something bigger than the individual circumstances. Obviously, the individual circumstances are important. But I think it is also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground so as to not make them so expensive.”
The self-certified physician expressed doubts about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in the midst of a measles outbreak linked to anti-vaxxer families. “I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul said, citing evidence that directly contradicts the scientific and medical consensus.
The senator furiously sniffed that he didn’t realize speeches required citations after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow caught him plagiarizing a Wikipedia article on the movie, Gattaca. Additional analysis found that Paul had lifted portions of other speeches without citing his sources, and the senator later scrubbed those remarks from his website. “I will admit sometimes we haven’t footnoted things properly,” he said. “I’ve written scientific papers. I know how to footnote things, but we’ve never footnoted speeches — and if that’s the standard I’m going to be held to, yes, we will change and we will footnote things.”
Paul and Maddow famously tousled before over his controversial remarks on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Paul, during his 2010 Senate run, defended the property rights of restaurant owners who wished to bar blacks. “Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant — or does the government own his restaurant?” he said at the time. “These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion.” Maddow mocked Paul four years later, when the Kentucky senator celebrated the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation.
Some of the most influential players in big-money conservative politics gathered late last month to discuss government’s role in society, but their focus kept shifting to a less weighty topic: Rand Paul’s outfit.
The Kentucky senator and prospective GOP presidential candidate — whose libertarian politics mesh with those of the billionaire megadonor brothers Charles and David Koch — appeared at the annual winter meeting of the Koch donor network wearing a boxy blue blazer, faded jeans and cowboy boots.
Some attendees commented that Paul’s appearance was “cavalier,” said Frayda Levin, a Paul supporter and major donor who attended the conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, California. It was organized by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit hubthat oversees the Koch network. “This is an older crowd and much more establishment crowd. They are used to a Romney. They are used to a Jeb Bush,” Levin said.
“Jeans might work for a younger audience,” said another attendee, “but these are old bulls who put on a tie every day to go to the office.”
The sartorial criticisms hint at a potentially more serious challenge for Paul — securing the backing of enough big-money donors to be competitive in a crowded Republican primary that could include prolific fundraisers such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
During a Sunday afternoon speech at the Koch forum , Paul drew skepticism among some donors by touting tax breaks as a means of spurring economic growth in blighted inner cities. That stance is anathema to the brand of small-government conservatism espoused by the industrialist brothers and many of their network’s donors, who object to marketplace interference. Even Levin admitted she was “a bit surprised. But he’s just exploring ideas right now. People didn’t quite understand where he was coming from.”
Donors were further put off by Paul’s performance later that evening in a forum for prospective GOP presidential candidates that also featured Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. At times slouching in a cushy arm chair, Paul, with his legs crossed, gave rambling answers that contrasted sharply with other participants.
At one point, he opposed eliminating tax benefits to the oil and gas industry — from which Koch Industries, the brothers’ multi-national conglomerate, benefits but which the brothers philosophically oppose. Paul seemed less prepared than Rubio, who gave detailed answers and was by far the most sharply turned out of the trio (pressed Navy blue suit, crisp white shirt, red tie and American flag lapel pin). Cruz, tieless in a light blue shirt and tan sports coat, laced his remarks with one-liners.
The next day, when 100 donors participated in an informal straw poll conducted by veteran consultant Frank Luntz, Paul finished dead last. Rubio came in first, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who stopped by the conference, but could not make it for the panel.
Paul’s spokesman Sergio Gor noted the event was mostly off the record (though the forum was streamed live online) and said his office wouldn’t comment on specifics. But, he added “we can assure you Sen. Rand Paul made great inroads with countless individuals who attended the event. His individual meetings with attendees proved very, very fruitful and he was well-received by the hosts. Finally, since the event was closed to the press, it is impossible for any reporter to accurately reflect the opinion of 300 attendees.”
Still, several attendees characterized Paul’s performance as a missed opportunity for him to significantly broaden his base of megadonor support headed into a presidential election in which the two major party nominees and their allies are expected to spend upward of $1.7 billion apiece.
Big-money support is seen as a key weakness for Paul, much as it was for the presidential campaigns of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. While there are key differences between father and son in both style and substance, major donors still look skeptically upon both Pauls’ brands of libertarian-infused conservatism — particularly their noninterventionist foreign policies.
Supporters argue that Rand Paul, who has opened offices in Silicon Valley and Austin, can overcome that by looking outside the traditional GOP megadonor community
“Mainstream donors were never his primary target. He is bringing in guys from Silicon Valley, from the tech world, who were never comfortable with the Republican Party,” Levin said, describing Paul’s donor base as “transpolitical.”
Indeed, Paul has met with a number of tech tycoons who defy party labels, such as Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and early investor in Facebook and LinkedIn, who gave more than $2.7 million to super PACs supporting Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; PayPal board member Scott Banister; Joe Lonsdale, founder of Palantir who is considered a Thiel protégé. Napster co-founder Sean Parker, who has waded increasingly into national politicsin recent months, donated $5,000 to Paul’s leadership PAC in November, according to the latest campaign finance reports.
Paul might not raise the most, but he will have necessary donor support, said Aleix Jarvis, one of the few Paul backers among the K-Street lobbying world of Washington. “Money is not going to be a problem for him,” said Jarvis, a lobbyist at Fierce Government Relations. “It won’t match what Jeb does, but I think that’s an advantage in Rand’s mind.”
Yet with mixed results, Paul has continued to try to court allies among the traditional megadonor community.
During a 2013 major donor summit organized by the Karl Rove-conceived American Crossroads super PAC, Paul was aggressively challenged on whether he would support a military strike on Iran if it became apparent that the regime had enough uranium to build a bomb.
The Freedom Partners conference seemed like fertile turf for Paul, given that Paul’s libertarian sensibilities align closely with the Koch brothers and some of their key donors.
In fact, Charles Koch is thought to favor Paul most among all the prospective 2016 candidates. And Paul has traveled to Koch’s home turf of Wichita to court him, playing at least one round of golf with the 79-year-old billionaire. (Paul’s PAC late last year paid $406 to Koch Industries for a “golfexpense” according to a recent campaign finance filing).
Some have viewed Charles Koch as a bridge to other network donors. The Koch network intends to spend $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 election on a combination of political organizing and advertising, as well as academic research and advocacy on free-enterprise issues. While the brothers and their network have not said whether they will try to influence the GOP presidential primary, the political world is closely watching its every interaction with prospective candidates.
Some conference attendees say Paul was well-received in a small group break-out session on one of Koch’s key issues — criminal justice reform.
But when Paul defended his noninterventionist positions in response to a question on Cuba at the candidate forum, sources say he got mixed results from the Koch donor network, which has become increasingly diverse and now includes several donors who are more aligned with the hawkish GOP orthodoxy on foreign policy.
Asked about his support for President Barack Obama’s move to normalize relations with the communist island nation, Paul said “We’ve tried an embargo for 50 years. It hasn’t worked. The reason I call it a form of isolationism is if you apply the embargo … if you do that for China, for Vietnam, for Laos, for any of the other countries that have human rights abuses, that would be a policy of isolationism.”
Levin conceded that Paul’s foreign policy isn’t for everyone. “That’s what differentiates him. I don’t think he came across as extreme libertarian. Rand Paul just thinks we can’t patrol the world,” she said. As for the Rancho Mirage, she said “I don’t think it was a missed opportunity. He tried to court them, but there are some issues — some key issues — that he’s not going to back down on.”
Meet The Press: Widow of Eric Garner Esaw Garner; Rev. Al Sharpton; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D); Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D); Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance; Texas Attorney General/Gov.-Elect Greg Abbott (R); Others TBD.Face The Nation: New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton; Camden County, NJ Police Chief J. Scott Thomson; NAACP President Cornell William Brooks; Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell; Roundtable: Charles Blow (New York Times), Gerald Seib (Wall Street Journal), David Ignatius (Washington Post) and Jeanne Cummings (Bloomberg Politics).
This Week: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (D); Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA); Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R); Roundtable: Republican Strategist Matthew Dowd, Former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, Rich Lowry (National Review) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez(D-CA).
Fox News Sunday: Radio Host Rush Limbaugh; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R); Roundtable: Brit Hume (Fox News), Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), George Will(Washington Post) and Juan Williams (Fox News).
State of the Union: Former President George W. Bush (R); Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro; Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX); Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI).
60 Minutes will feature: an interview with Lynn Good, the CEO of Duke Energy (preview); a report on billionaire doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is using nearly a billion dollars of his fortune developing an unconventional method of fighting cancer that he hopes will make it a chronic, treatable disease instead of a death sentence (preview); and, a report from Cremona, Italy, the birthplace of Stradivarius violins (preview).
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) didn’t mince words on Thursday when asked for his thoughts about Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) and the strain of libertarianism that is spreading among some in the Republican Party. According to Salon.com’s Alex Seitz-Wald, Christie slammed Paul and his isolationist foreign policy ideals “dangerous” and wondered if Paul would like to come to New Jersey and discuss his theories with the surviving family members of people killed in the terrorist attacks that took place on Sept. 11,2001.
Christie — who, like Paul, is considered a likely prospect for the 2016 presidential race — made his remarks at a panel of Republican governors in Aspen, Colorado. In what Salon called “the opening volley of the 2016 campaign,” Christie said that he thinks “this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought.”
Rand Paul — like his father Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) — advocates an overall drawing down of the U.S. presence overseas and a strict non-intervention policy in the conflicts of other nations. Christie said that he feels that this hands-off approach is too risky. He agrees with how both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have handled national security issues.
“What we as a country have to decide,” he said, “is ‘Do we have amnesia?’ ‘Cos I don’t. And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”
“And still seeing those families?” he continued. “I love all these esoteric debates that people are getting in.”
“Rand Paul for example?” the moderator asked.
“Listen, you can name any number of people who have engaged in it, and he’s one of them,” Christie replied. “These esoteric, intellectual debates, I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t. Because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.”
New numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the economy added a mere 80,000 jobs in June. That’s down from an average of 150,000 jobs a month for the first part of the year, and far too little to keep up with population growth.
Republican intransigence on economic policy has been a key contributor to the sluggish recovery. As early as 2009, Republican fear-mongering over spending and their readiness to filibuster in the Senate helped convince the White House economic team that an $800 billion stimulus was the most they could hope to get through Congress. Reporting has since revealed that the team thought the country actually needed a stimulus on the order of $1.2 to $1.8 trillion. The economy’s path over the next three years proved them right. Here are the top five ways the Republicans have sabotaged the economic recovery since:
1. Filibustering the American Jobs Act. Last October, Senate Republicans killeda jobs bill proposed by President Obama that would have pumped $447 billion into the economy. Multiple economic analysts predicted the bill would add around two million jobs and hailed it as defense against a double-dip recession. The Congressional Budget Office also scored it as a net deficit reducer over ten years, and the American public supported the bill.
2. Stonewalling monetary stimulus. The Federal Reserve can doenormous good for a depressed economy through more aggressive monetary stimulus, and by tolerating a temporarily higher level of inflation. But with everything from Ron Paul’s anti-inflationary crusade to Rick Perry threatening to lynch Chairman Ben Bernanke, Republicans have browbeaten the Fed into not going down this path. Most damagingly, the GOP repeatedly held up President Obama’s nominations to the Federal Reserve Board during the critical months of the recession, leaving the board without the institutional clout it needed to help the economy.
3. Threatening a debt default. Even though the country didn’t actually hit its debt ceiling last summer, the Republican threat to default on the United States’ outstanding obligations was sufficient to spook financial markets anddo real damage to the economy.
4. Cutting discretionary spending in the debt ceiling deal.The deal the GOP extracted as the price for avoiding default imposed around $900 billion in cuts over ten years. It included $30.5 billion in discretionary cuts in 2012 alone, costing the country 0.3 percent in economic growth and 323,000 jobs, according to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute. Starting in 2013, the deal will trigger another $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years.
5. Cutting discretionary spending in the budget deal. While not as cataclysmic as the debt ceiling brinksmanship, Republicans also threatened a shutdown of the government in early 2011 if cuts were not made to that year’s budget. The deal they struck with the White House cut $38 billion from food stamps, health, education, law enforcement, and low-income programs among others, whilesparing defense almost entirely.
There have also been a few near-misses, in which the GOP almost prevented help from coming to the economy. The Republicans in the House delayed a transportation bill that saved as many as 1.9 million jobs. House Committees run by the GOP have passed proposals aimed at cutting billions from food stamps, and the party has repeatedlythreatened to kill extensions of unemployment insurance and cuts to the payroll tax.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, those policies — the payroll tax cut, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and discretionary spending for low-income Americans —have the highest multipliers, meaning more job boosting potential per dollar.
Fox News’ latest polling data should alarm the Republican Party, because it shows President Barack Obama winning over Mitt Romney in a general election, the Democratic Party with higher favorables than the Republican Party, Mitt Romney with low favorables and the Tea Party in the dumps.
Here’s the data for how the public, per the Fox poll (conducted by Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) of 912 registered voters by landline and cell), views the various parties:
Favorable VS Unfavorable:
Barack Obama 50%, 47% The Democratic Party 48%, 44% Mitt Romney 39%, 49% The Republican Party 39%, 52% Ron Paul 35%, 44% Rick Santorum 35%,47% Tea Party Movement 30%, 51% Newt Gingrich 23%, 67%
Only Newt Gingrich is loathed more than the Tea Party. And while Mitt Romney has only 2% more unfavorable ranking than the President, Romney’s favorables are another story. Only 39% view Mitt favorably, while 50% view Obama favorably.
Mitt Romney’s troubles don’t end there. His unfavorables have almost doubled at 49%, with the steady descent starting in 2010 at 28% unfavorable. At the same point in time, his favorable ranking was 40% and it has remained pretty steady at 39%. As people get to know Mitt, his unfavorables rise.