PREVIEW 2016 – Senator Rand Paul Making The Right Moves
My first entry in a series looking ahead to 2016 is on Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul, who is quietly building a resume for the presidency based on limited government conservatism coupled with a restrained foreign policy.
Senator Paul began his political career in the shadow of his father, one of the most beloved figures in the libertarian-wing of the conservative movement, Rep. Ron Paul. The impressive grassroots and social media presence of Ron Paul supporters was a huge factor in Rand Paul’s upset win in the 2010 Kentucky U.S. Senate primary.
Since taking office there has been rampant speculation that Senator Paul would follow in his father’s footsteps and run for President in 2016. Not surprisingly, Paul is staking out a host of foreign policy positions that place him at odds with hawkish Senate Republican wing of the party, led by John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
First, Paul astutely recognizes, even if Senator McCain does not, that the American people are weary of overseas adventures and have little patience for widening the War on Terror. This week at the Heritage Foundation, Senator Paul claimed the mantle on the “realist” school of foreign policy, laying out a principle of foreign intervention only when it serves specific American interests. This places Paul much more in line with the broader American public than the interventionist McCain-wing of the GOP.
Second, he has been vocal in his opposition to the selling of F-16s and M1A1 Abrams tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Egyptian government. Senator McCain claims this will help “stabilize” Egypt, but most Americans little sympathy for a government that is instituting sharia law, treating women like second class citizens and openly supports Hamas. Our national interest are not served by giving this unpredictable government fighter jets or the most advanced tank in America’s mechanized arsenal.
Third, he was one of the few Senators willing to confront Secretary Clinton during the hearing on the Benghazai debacle. Not being afraid to speak truth to power or bucking conventional wisdom is a sign of true leadership.
Fourth, Paul has been a leader in criticizing the Obama’s Administration weak response on the arrest of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the brave Pakistini doctor who provided the actionable intelligence on the Bin Laden raid. The notorious Pakistini ISI subsequently seized Dr. Afridi, where he faces torture and execution. The President’s abandonment of the man who was critical to his greatest national security triumph sends a chilling message in a region where America has immense trouble recruiting human intelligence assets.
Senator Paul recently conducted a high profile visit to Israel accompanied by several of America’s leading evangelical leaders. Evangelical Christians are steadfast supporters of Israel, and it is no coincidence that they are one of the most significant voting blocks in the early caucus state of Iowa.
Finally, Senator Paul’s thoughtfulness has earned wide respect from his Senate colleagues. It is well known that his father has a much more combative personality that inevitably leads to isolation in a town where relationships are vital to achieving substantive legislative victories. Senator Paul has been adept in doing his homework, conducting his committee work seriously and picking his battles wisely.
If Senator Paul can tap into his father’s grassroots supporters and energy coupled with decent establishment support, he will be a very formidable candidate in 2016 for the GOP nomination. Regardless, he is providing a unique voice in the United States Senate on a more restrained foreign policy for America. Future thoughts on Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Bobby Jindhal and our own Governor Bob McDonnell are coming soon.