Tea Partiers still love Rand Paul.
His new immigration proposal--which includes backing a pathway to citizenship--doesn't seem to have changed their opinion of him.
Instead, Tea Party faithful say it is an example of his forthrightness as well as their own openness to reform.
Sal Russo, founder of the Tea Party Express, called Paul a "favorite of the group," and despite the movement's focus on the national debt, spending and economic issues he praised Paul's "willingness to stand up and take a principled stand" on immigration.
Russo compared the Kentucky senator to Ronald Reagan.
"A lot of people voted for Reagan that didn't agree with him on everything, but he spoke boldly," Russo said. "That's what we are sort of applauding with Rand Paul…It's refreshing to have someone raise an issue in a clear and unambiguous way. We think it needs to happen on the fiscal issues."
Matt Kibbe, the president and CEO of Tea Party ally FreedomWorks, said he does not think Paul's immigration announcement hurt his potential 2016 presidential aspirations.
"I think he's sort of risen to the top of the GOP ladder simply by putting ideas back on the table," Kibbe said, referring to both the filibuster and his budget plan. "All of these ideas that most Republicans pay lip service to, he's putting specifics on the table. It's a calculated risk taking that puts him ahead of his other potential primary opponents for 2016."
Jenny Beth Martin, the head of the Tea Party Patriots, also noted that immigration is outside of their wheelhouse, but said they were "aligned" with Paul on the issue of border security, which is the first step in his own proposal he laid out Tuesday.
"The way we've approached immigration is the borders need to be secure," Martin said. "Real action needs to be taken to secure the border and then once that happens we will talk about other immigration policies."
Martin added that Paul has "championed our values and principals, for constitutionally limited government and for that he has gained the Tea Party's respect."
Paul will have an advantage over his potential primary opponents if he has the Tea Party's backing in 2016. On Tuesday, just hours after his immigration address, the Iowa GOP announced he would be headlining their Lincoln Day Dinner in May, another sign he's at least considering testing the waters.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
It Doesn't Look Like Rand Paul's Immigration Proposal is Hurting His Support from the Tea Party
People actually like leaders who lead I guess: