In my latest column, I discuss the uneasiness among Rand Paul’s base with the senator’s recent handling of defense issues and foreign policy. This Politico story also discusses this phenomenon, highlighting Ron Paul supporters who aren’t standing with Rand.
But I do think the Politico report conflates two important things. Yes, there are those who are “disillusioned by the younger Paul’s concessions to mainstream politics.” The most prominent example in the piece is Drew Ivers, who chaired Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign in Iowa.
Ivers complains that Rand is watering down the Ron Paul message, saying, “The strategy of sending a blended message is one that has risk.”
Ivers is no libertarian hardliner. He previously worked for Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan. Robertson and Buchanan both finished second in the Iowa caucuses, Ron a strong third.
Politico also quotes someone unhappy that Rand was apparently attending a fundraiser for the governor of Iowa, who has battled the liberty movement inside the GOP, rather than filibustering with Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.
Take a look at some of the other examples, however. Three liberty Republicans, including an Iowa state lawmaker, say they are endorsing Cruz. The poll of former Ron Paul delegates shows “high single digit” support for Cruz and Scott Walker.
Cruz has some things to recommend him. But if you’re upset with Rand on foreign policy or defense spending, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to ditch him for Cruz.
The senator from Texas voted with Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio on increasing defense spending through borrowing rather than offsetting budget cuts elsewhere. He didn’t vote for Paul’s amendment featuring offsetting cuts.
Cruz is far more willing to court military conflict with Iran than Paul, who has continued to defend diplomacy over war even after signing the Cotton letter. It’s hard to think of a foreign policy issue where he’s been better. Ditto Walker.
Some of the defectors want someone more conventionally conservative, not more libertarian. And that is why Paul is making “concessions to mainstream politics” in the first place.
Glenn Beck asked Cruz to refrain from attacking either Paul or Walker in 2016. As I argue in today’s Daily Caller, Cruz is unlikely to fulfill that request.
Rand Paul is facing pressure on all sides.