Rand Is Already Running

Sen. Rand Paul Delivers Immigration Address Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Conference

A key part of Julia Ioffe’s profile of Rand Paul:

When Paul launched his political career three years ago, he was viewed in much the same way as his father, or, as Senator John McCain once called him, a “wacko bird.” He was identified with the same marginal issues (drug legalization, neo-isolationism) and the same marginal constituencies (anarchists, goldbugs). But this year, Paul has emerged as a serious candidate. He has started actively campaigning for the nomination earlier than any of the other Republicans mulling a run. Already, he has racked up multiple meet-and-greets, dinners, and coffee gatherings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. While his father may have been an also-ran, national polls show Rand Paul as one of the top contenders for the GOP nomination.

In private, Paul has been meeting with key GOP power brokers, including the Koch brothers, and he has courted techies at Silicon Valley companies like Google, Facebook, and eBay.

“We’re doing something that Ron never did; we’re reaching out to major donors,” says a Paul adviser. “Not everyone is giving us money, but there’s definitely some flirtation going on.” According to this adviser, in the last six months, RAND PAC, Paul’s national political operation, has raised more than a million dollars. “He’s very politically talented,” says a former senior official at the Republican National Committee. “He is absolutely a contender.”

The pandering to Christianists is part of this strategy presumably. So too the support for immigration reform. And the millennial distrust of Obama’s surveillance state could also give him an opening on the liberaltarian side. I wouldn’t under-estimate him at all. Chait chips in two cents:

Paul is far savvier and more pragmatic than his father, shrewdly assessing which rough edges of his ideology need to be sanded off to make himself acceptable to the national party. And yet, Paul retains enough intellectual integrity that he can’t fully let go of his principles. That integrity was why he dodged and weaved for six painful minutes with Rachel Maddow in 2010, not quite embracing his private property opposition to the parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that banned segregation in stores, but also refusing to abandon it.

(Photo: U.S. Senator Rand Paul addresses a breakfast meeting of the 2013 Annual Legislative Summit of U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce March 19, 2013 at Capitol Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. Paul spoke on immigration and he announced his endorsement for a pathway for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States to become citizens. By Alex Wong/Getty Images)