Friday, March 29, 2013

Time: Rand is more artful than his father was

Rand continues to impress:

Like his father, Paul opposes foreign aid, a position that puts him at odds with the vast majority of his party. "I think the foreign aid doesn't work," he told the crowd. Eyebrows raised. But then Paul asked why the U.S. should send money to countries that burn American flags, and why we should allocate money for bridges in Egypt or Pakistan when bridges are crumbling stateside. Heads nodded; a woman in pearls murmured softly, "Amen." Later, a disabled Vietnam veteran expressed concerns about cutting the Pentagon budget, a measure Paul favors. "To take care of veterans who come home from war, you've going to have to cut waste at the Pentagon and audit the Pentagon," he said. That should include shuttering military bases, he said. "I'm not saying don't have any," he hastened, adding that maintaining a strong national defense was among the signal responsibilities of government. "I'm just saying maybe not 900. I mean, I'd rather have one at Fort Campbell and Fort Knox" — Kentucky installations that offer jobs in his state — "than one in Timbuktu."

Ron Paul might have answered this question with a screed about U.S. imperialism. Rand's lighter touch goes a long way. "Rand is more political" than his father, says an ally of both Pauls. "There were years when Ron spoke at CPAC and started in on foreign policy, and you could see the shades go down. Rand has an ability to speak that same audience and say the same thing, but do it in a way that they'll listen."

"When there are certain positions he has that aren't as popular," explains Trey Grayson, Paul's former Senate primary opponent and now the Director of Harvard's Institute of Politics, "he's adept at marketing it to sound less objectionable."

It's a talent that has lifted Paul's status in the Senate, and it is playing equally well back home. To cement his base of support within a Republican Party that still has misgivings about libertarian doctrine, Paul must continue to win over the kind of conservatives who shunned his father as fringey. People like Shirley Wiseman, a real-estate developer who worked as assistant secretary for housing in the Reagan Administration. "I am a centralist Republican conservative," she says. "I am not a Tea Partyer." Wiseman was a strong supporter of Mitt Romney. She thought Ron Paul was "too far right." But while she concedes that Ron and Rand Paul's beliefs are similar, "I know what good conservatives are in Washington," she says. "Rand Paul is one of those people."

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