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Rand Paul “no longer outside the mainstream”

Posted by Richard on March 24, 2014

Scott Conroy has an interesting article about Sen. Rand Paul at RealClearPolitics. It’s clear that Paul is able to appeal to people outside the GOP, especially the young. But Conroy argues that many rank-and-file Republicans have shifted significantly in the direction of Paul’s more libertarian views:

With the Republican Party facing widening demographic challenges, the Kentucky senator has been aggressively presenting his libertarian-leaning brand of politics as an opportunity to expand the GOP’s reach.

To some, these efforts to emphasize his credentials as a different kind of Republican offer limited benefits and outsized risks in the coming primary fight.

…  

But a couple of factors leading into the 2016 election suggest that Rand Paul’s opponents won’t be as eager to challenge his national security views so vociferously and that attention-grabbing moves like his trip to Berkeley are grounded in sound political strategy.

First, he is a savvier politician than his father and typically calibrates his remarks to avoid raising the ire of a clear majority within the GOP. 2016 debate watchers can expect to hear Paul lambast the NSA’s domestic surveillance program and perhaps even question the “traitor” label often assigned to Edward Snowden, but they are unlikely to hear him question the almost universally praised killing of Osama Bin Laden, as his father did.

Second, mountains of evidence indicate that rank-and-file Republican voters have shifted precipitously in recent years toward Paul’s noninterventionist foreign policy stance and are now much more skeptical of government programs that infringe upon liberties.

In short, most GOP strategists agree, Rand Paul’s views on these matters are no longer outside the mainstream of Republican politics.

I certainly hope that’s correct.

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