Welcome to the Arena, Senator Paul

Today, in Kentucky, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] is going to announce his campaign for President of the United States.

In 2010, when I backed Senator Paul in the primary, I got an enormous amount of grief from many conservatives and Republicans who did not like Senator Paul’s father and assumed that Senator Paul would be a clone of his father. I do not regret one bit supporting Senator Paul.

This 2016 run has caused one unnoticed negative for conservatives. Since it became obvious that they’d be competing against each other in 2016, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz has had a less than stellar working relationship when it comes to advancing the conservative agenda. At least now it can be out there and the differences between the two can be aired.

Paul is going to have baggage that Cruz does not have. Paul backed McConnell against Matt Bevin in 2014 and McConnell is doing nothing now to reciprocate. Though McConnell won, it left a bad taste in the mouths of many conservative activists. Likewise, Rand Paul is going to have the shadow of his father lingering over him and will have to, again, show he is his own man. The zealous nature of many Ron Paul supporters keeps some from embracing Rand Paul and, concurrently, Team Paul has historically done awesome at winning straw polls, just not regular polls.

But Paul will be free of some baggage that Cruz has. Paul has gone out of his way to show he can work within establishment circles. Backing McConnell helped. Likewise, Paul has shown himself to be a less doctrinaire conservative, which will help him with the media, even if it does not with the base.

Many of my friends think Rand Paul operates as a closet Democrat. I think, in fact, he comes the closest to an authentic civil libertarian candidate in some time. He is willing to approach issues on race in ways other Republicans don’t, if only to mitigate prior attacks on him for his statements on civil rights legislation. He has also been willing to speak critically of American engagement abroad when most Republicans rah-rah any use of force.

This will help Rand Paul set himself apart from the rest of a crowded GOP field. I suspect, however, that much of Paul’s natural base are not natural Republican primary voters and that will be to his detriment without a sharp ground game.

Further, I have a nagging feeling that Rand Paul’s candidacy is a candidacy for times of peace when we are headed to times of war. He has spent so much time establishing himself as a civil libertarian on national security and use of force, he will have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining how his views fit in to a time of war.

Ultimately, and let’s be honest here, most Americans are perfectly willing to trade freedom for security. Rand Paul isn’t. That is going to make his candidacy a tough sell.

And then there is the issue he and [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] share. They are both one term U.S. Senators. What qualifies them to be President.

Welcome to the arena, Senator Paul. Good luck. I cannot wait to hear your vision for the future and hope to see you at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta.

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