All the signs point to Rand Paul having already lost his bid to be the Republican nominee in 2016.
In the past I’ve been highly skeptical of Republican Senator Rand Paul’s chances of winning the Republican nomination for the presidency for quite some time now. The argument is pretty simple; Rand Paul’s non-interventionist libertarian views on foreign policy were just too out step with his party for him to be the nominee. The fact is that neoconservatives dominate the Republican Party’s views on foreign policy and so it was never very likely that someone who has called for cutting foreign aid to Israel and limits to spying and drone warfare would be acceptable to any number of Republican party actors and interest groups, especially neoconservatives.
And sure enough the signs that Paul is going nowhere are mounting. As Jonathan Chait pointed out recently:
Paul finds himself languishing in every metric of campaign success: polls, fund-raising, insider support, media attention. Two pre-postmortems today convey the stench of death that clings to Paul’s once-buoyant presidential hopes.
Alex Isenstadt has the most comprehensive autopsy of the things that have gone wrong for Rand Paul 2016. His campaign manager resents his chief strategist. Paul, incredibly, turned down a chance to attend a retreat with the Koch Brothers, who are kind of a big deal in the Republican Party. Staff morale is abysmal. The candidate hates fund-raising. Donald Trump has overshadowed him.
I think that’s a pretty fair description of Paul campaign right now, but I think Chait is confusing the symptoms of Paul’s flailing campaign with the underlying disease. Simply put of GOP party actors just don’t agree with him. Thus he can’t raise money because Republican fundraisers and donors don’t like what he says, and he has an amateur and dysfunctional campaign staff because serious political professionals inside the Republican network don’t want to waste their chances in the 2016 cycle on a candidate that party insiders don’t like.
Can Paul bounce back? Well sure, in politics, “anything can happen.” And yes, eventual nominees like John Kerry have come back from far worse campaign problems than this. The crucial difference here is that Kerry was always very much in the mainstream of his party when it came to his policy positions, while Paul has only been walking back his stances relatively recently.
Paul has always been a darling of much of the political media, after all he is a politician that often takes unorthodox policy positions, which makes him pretty interesting to write and read about. But that is of course the problem; Republican Party actors want a politician that they can trust to advance their agenda in the White House. Rand Paul just isn’t that person, because he has consistently said he doesn’t want to advance that agenda, and no amount of silly campaign stunts can change that.
The man is toast.
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