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This article first appeared in Real Clear Politics.
Rand Paul raised just $2.5 million for his presidential bid over the last three months–a sum that not only pales in comparison to the high double-digit hauls of his rivals, but amounts to roughly a third of what he brought in the previous quarter.
The Kentucky libertarian has slipped so far in the polls–the RCP average shows him at 2.3 percent–that he may not qualify for the prime-time debate stage later this month.
The Kentucky senator who rode the 2010 Tea Party wave to a victory in the Senate is a practical libertarian
Paul has also recently been raising money for his U.S. Senate re-election, raising questions about his commitment to the presidential contest. Paul pushed the Kentucky GOP to host a caucus instead of a primary, which would allow him to run for both offices–and he footed the $250,000 bill.
Altogether, this paints a picture of a campaign on life support.
But the campaign doesn’t see it that way and instead points to signs of life: in the two weeks after the second Republican debate, it raised $750,000. The campaign insists there will be no shakeups or changes in strategy, that Paul will continue his campaign schedule in the early states and regions off the beaten track, and that it has enough resources to carry the candidate through at least the first four primaries. This week, the campaign rolled out a list of caucus state endorsements.
Spokesman Sergio Gor said the campaign has added new staff over the past week.
“Our campaign is in for the long haul and Senator Paul’s message of limited government and individual liberty will continue to resonate with primary voters,” Gor said in a statement.
“Most Interesting Man in Politics”
Still, the numbers are startling for a candidate who, at this time last year, had been dubbed the “most interesting man in politics.” Paul’s libertarian leanings, especially his audience-commanding efforts in the Senate on drone strikes and NSA snooping, his calls for criminal justice reform and support for legalizing marijuana, and his ability to expand the conservative message to new groups and communities were all supposed to set him apart from the crowded field.
Instead, the GOP returned to its hawkish roots on foreign policy as situations escalated abroad, and Paul found himself in a challenging position. He wanted from the outset to expand the coalition of loyal libertarians his father had built through his own presidential campaigns, but he also hoped to win over a faction of the mainstream. He irked libertarians by proposing an increase in the defense budget, joining Sen. Tom Cotton and others in trying to trip up the Iran negotiations, and ultimately opposed the nuclear deal. And on the campaign trail, he didn’t always appear to be all that interested or interesting.
Paul was the second candidate to announce his presidential campaign, and did so with the message: “Defeat the Washington Machine, Unleash the American Dream.” But Paul had also worked to alter Kentucky state laws to allow him to run for his Senate seat and the presidency at the same time, which not only raised questions about his intentions but also seemed antithetical to his anti-establishment campaign.
The rise of real political outsiders, Donald Trump in particular, undercut Paul’s credentials. And Paul’s efforts to swat down Trump, especially in the first debate, proved futile and appeared desperate.
Paul became a favorite punching bag for Trump. On the main debate stage last month, Trump asked why Paul was even participating. This week, he tried to stoke the fires and take credit for Paul’s demise, tweeting: “Prediction: Rand Paul has been driven out of the race by my statements about him– he will announce soon. 1%!”
GOP presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul sits down with CBS’ “Face the Nation” to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis, Planned Parent…
Paul responded by saying he would be sticking around the presidential race just as long as Trump, if not longer, and called the real estate mogul “a clown.”
“Ultimately we’re going to get to the truth, we’re going to get to substance–it takes a while,” Paul told CNN earlier this week. “But by no means am I finished: I’m just getting started.”
But Trump isn’t the only one undermining Paul’s campaign. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has also sought to appeal to some of the libertarian contingent and has maintained his standing in the polls. The tension between the two has thickened.
This week, the Cruz campaign rolled out a video highlighting eight supporters of his campaign who had previously backed Ron Paul. The video also noted that Rand Paul, along with Ron, had endorsed Cruz during his Senate campaign.
Paul said Cruz was “done for” in the Senate Tuesday after Cruz failed to garner enough support to amend a government-funding bill. “Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names, which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate, and as a consequence, he can’t get anything done legislatively,” Paul told Fox News Radio.
The criticism, however, was a bit peculiar, as decorum and Senate rules are rarely priorities for anti-establishment voters. Cruz picked up on that in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, reminding listeners that Paul endorsed Mitch McConnell in his re-election bid and that the now-Senate majority leader returned the favor.
Fundraising Takes a Dive
Paul will have even more competition. The close of the fiscal quarter this week serves as a window into the financial health and habits of campaigns. Cruz has not released his numbers yet. So far, Ben Carson has wowed the field by raising $20 million in the last quarter, and his campaign says most of the contributions come from small donors.
In the previous quarter, Paul raised over $7 million and had $4 million in cash at the end of June. This time, he raised $2.5 million and has $2 million cash on hand.
Ron Paul raised nearly $35 million during his presidential run four years ago. In his 2007 run, the elder Paul raised $6 million in a 24-hour period through an aggressive online “money bomb” pitch.
What’s more, Rand Paul can’t rely on two of his three super PACs to propel his stalling campaign. One group said this week it halted its fundraising efforts for a “futile” campaign, though it had spent little so far this cycle.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is one of the 10 Republican presidential candidates who qualified for the first prime-time GOP debate. Paul’s poll number…
The leaders of another group backing Paul, America’s Liberty PAC, are under indictment on campaign finance charges stemming from their previous work on Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.
Another PAC, Concerned American Voters, which is focused on organizational efforts in the early states, says it’s still raising money. “Donors who have given to us were generally pretty energized by the performance in last debate,” says the PAC’s senior adviser, Matt Kibbe, who noted that Trump has taken up a lot of the oxygen but that there is still time for Paul to turn things around. He pointed to criminal justice reform as one of Paul’s initiatives likely to gain steam.
“What I’m hearing from investors and activists is they want to hear more of what they heard in the last debate,” Kibbe says. “They want to hear those libertarian values to distinguish Rand.”
It’s unclear, however, whether Paul will make the big stage for the third debate in Colorado on Oct. 28. Host CNBC said candidates must average 3 percent in national polls Sept. 17 to Oct. 21. A standing of 2.5 percent would be rounded up. But right now, at least in the RCP average, Paul stands at 2.3 percent.
In other words, Paul’s fate as a presidential candidate may just come down to rounding. And he could rebound. Still, some argue, there’s a Senate race in Kentucky may that may look to be more and more inviting.
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Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that Hillary Clinton “bears some of the responsibility” for the humanitarian crisis that has spurred hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee their country.
He said that Clinton’s “policy of putting arms into that situation” – a reference to the fact that she was an early advocate of arming moderate Syrians to fight dictator Bashar al-Assad – helped throw gasoline on the flames in the country.
“Assad is a person who gassed his own people, but on the other side you have really the remnants of the people who attacked us or people with a similar ideology to al Qaeda who attacked us. So really arming either of the sides was a mistake,” Paul said.
He also said that the remaining Christians in Syria prefer Assad’s leadership to that of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which holds vast swaths of territory. The U.S. “shouldn’t do anything to push back Assad or to bomb Assad or to defeat Assad because really what that does is it opens a space for ISIS,” he said.
In a separate interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of state, said the U.S. should accept 65,000 Syrian refugees to help alleviate the crisis as hundreds of thousands of migrants seek refuge in Europe and other places.
GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, says civilized Islam must step up to condemn radical Islam. The Kentucky Senator says he w…
Paul said the U.S. must “be wary of some of the threat that comes from mass migration” and said that other countries who have contributed to the unstable situation in Syria should be doing more.
“Saudi Arabia doesn’t appear to be willing to take any. Iran should be taking some. So if they’re Shiite Muslims and Saudi Arabia won’t take them, why would not Iran want to accept them? And these are the people who have been stoking the flames over there. Bahrain, Qatar, all the people pouring arms into there, all these rich sheikdoms, why aren’t they taking refugees?” he said.
He also referenced the refugees that came to Iraq after the war there, and said that the U.S. should have left “the people who were pro-West” in Iraq to help rebuild the country.
“In this situation, there’s not really a choice,” he conceded. “Those 65,000 people or the hundreds of thousands of people are stranded. But at the same time, I think we have to go to first causes as to what caused it in the first place.”
Paul also weighed in on some of the recent controversies generated by his fellow GOP candidates discussing religion.
Businessman Donald Trump declined to say anything when a person asking him questions at a town hall said President Obama was a Muslim and not American.
“We shouldn’t question the president’s faith and I think that’s kind of crazy. And if someone does, we should, I think, rebuke that,” he said.
And neurosurgeon Ben Carson said on “Meet the Press” Sunday that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”
“I think, it’s not so much what religion you are, it’s what you stand for. But I don’t think that we’re really anywhere near that probably that happening because they’re a small minority in our population,” he said.
But he also suggested he understood the thinking behind what Carson said.
“The problem we have is that people have been attacking us have been all of one religion and it’s hard to separate that,” he said. “Civilized Islam needs to step up in a bigger way and say this doesn’t represent us. I know they do. But I don’t hear enough of it. I need to hear more of it.”
Paul also weighed in on the looming fight in Congress over funding the government. Many Republicans want defund Planned Parenthood when they allocate money to keep the government open, but President Obama has threatened to veto any spending bill that doesn’t fund the group.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, says we should put hundreds if not thousands of restrictions on spending in Congress. The Kentucky senator says Congr…
“I think we’re missing sort of the bigger picture on everything. Not just Planned Parenthood. We borrow a million dollars a minute. So if you do a continuing resolution, you’re acknowledging that the government’s broken but you’re going to vote to continue spending money at a rate that is unsustainable. So it’s not just Planned Parenthood. It’s everything,” he said.
He called on the GOP to “flip the tables” and demand 60 votes in the Senate for not just Planned Parenthood funding, but everything in the government.
“Let’s put hundreds if not thousands of restrictions on all the spending,” he said. “If I were in charge of Congress, I would put forward spending and I would say, this is what it is. And if Democrats don’t vote for it, then Democrats would be shutting down government.”
He said he will not vote for any short-term spending bill to keep the government open because “it’s not the way we should do business.” He said he hopes the government doesn’t stay open “without reform.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, says voters are angry with Washington because Republicans are doing nothing to reign in spending. The GOP presidentia…
Paul believes that all of his colleagues in the House and Senate should have term limits in order to help break up the status quo.
“I would throw everybody out, myself included. I’m serious. I think we need to start afresh periodically and I think 12 years is more than enough time in the Senate, 12 years is more than enough time in the House and I would think you would get more turnover,” he said. “The people, the public are about a decade ahead of government, but you need more turnover in government and right now people are upset and unhappy and rightly so and I’m one of them.”
Presidential candidate Rand Paul is planning to sign the Republican National Committee’s loyalty pledge and forego a third party run — and is cautioning that if Donald Trump doesn’t sign it, the billionaire could hand a 2016 victory to Democrats.
“What I don’t like about Donald Trump is his using the Republican party and then perhaps going out at the very end after he doesn’t win the nomination and then trying to destroy the Republican party,” Paul told “CBS This Morning” early Thursday. “Ross Perot, you know, ended up giving us the first Clinton and I think that if Trump does this again, he could give us another Clinton.”
Others in the party, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former tech executive Carly Fiorina, also received the pledge and have declared their intention to sign it. Trump is set to meet with RNC chairman Reince Priebus Thursday to discuss the loyalty promise.
While Paul has yet to discuss the pledge circulated by Priebus, the Kentucky Republican would, “in all likelihood,” put his name on the document.
Donald Trump is the only candidate who has threatened to mount a third party campaign. CBS News political director and host of Face the Nation …
“We have said in the past that I am not going to run as a third party candidate,” Paul added. “And I think that is a reasonable pledge to take.”
He did, however, express sympathy for third-party candidates because “sometimes the two parties don’t do a very good job.”
“Third parties do provide pressure on the two parties to do better, actually,” Paul said. In 1988, Paul’s father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul, announced his presidential candidacy as a Libertarian.
Kim Davis could learn her fate Thursday after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing religious views. Davis wants a judg…
The Kentucky Republican also weighed in on Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk defying the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
“If society is going to change its opinion on what marriage is, I think it’d probably be better through persuasion than through sort of an aggressive tactic where we federalize everything and force people to do things they don’t want to do,” Paul said, defending the Kentucky clerk’s resistance. “Ultimately, I think it would be better to probably let people make their own decisions.”
Kim Davis and her deputies are slated to explain to a federal judge why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court, even though they continue to defy the justices.
But Paul cautioned that if same-sex marriage advocates “push too hard, they’re actually going to make things worse.”
“I think persuasion is a much better way than sort of bullying people to believe in what you believe in,” he said.
Others in the GOP, however, have advised that Davis’ actions are inappropriate, given her position as a government official.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Turesday that “as a public official, comply with the law or resign,” while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie added that someone working in goverment “has a bit of a different obligation than someone working in the private sector.”
Nationwide, clerks in 13 counties are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, including nine in Alabama, where the chief justice of the State Supreme Court is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.
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Rand Paul: Trump third party run "could give us another …
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky speaks during a campaign stop at Royal Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets in Niles, Illinois, United States, August 1, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young – RTX1MOZH
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will be able to run for president and reelection to the Senate simultaneously next year, the Kentucky Republican Party decided Saturday.
By a vote of 111 to 36, the party’s central committee voted to hold presidential caucuses on March 5, separate from the state’s other primary elections, which will be held May 17. A two-thirds majority was required for the motion to pass.
Kentucky state law prohibits a candidate’s name from appearing twice on the same ballot, which has left Paul seeking a way to run for both offices simultaneously.
The Kentucky senator who rode the 2010 Tea Party wave to a victory in the Senate is a practical libertarian
Some Republicans in the state were concerned about the cost of holding caucuses, and they also weren’t sold on the viability of Paul’s presidential bid, given some lackluster fundraising figures and his middling position in the polls.
Paul pledged Saturday to pay the state GOP at least $250,000 by September 18 to pay for the caucuses.
“It’s a great day. As you know, winning a two-thirds vote is not easy, but we exceeded two-thirds,” Paul told reporters after the vote, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “We had a really, I think, a great discussion. It’s almost a little bit like being on a jury. There’s back and forth, and back and forth. Ultimately I think people got to the point where they were very comfortable with the idea.”
Paul pitched the party members on the idea that holding a caucus in March could increase Kentucky’s clout in the GOP nominating process by making the state’s voice heard earlier.
“It really is about trying to grow the party,” he said Saturday. “This is good for the Republican Party, that we’ll be able to grow our list and excite people and get more people to turn out.”
2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Rand Paul can run for president, Senate at the same time …
Sen. Rand Paul has made safeguarding civil liberties a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, and he hasn’t been afraid to take on his own party in that fight. At the end of May, as key provisions of the USA Patriot Act were set to expire, Paul took to the Senate floor in a heroic 10-hour filibuster to make sure the act would expire before his Senate colleagues had a chance to pass legislation to entrench the National Security Agency’s abilities to collect Americans’ phone records.
It was a gutsy bit of political maneuvering that showed he was willing to stand up for his libertarian views even if they are out of sync with his party. But when it comes to the question of abortion — a private and deeply personal decision a woman sometimes has to make — Rand Paul believes government should be making our most intimate decisions for us. He rightly believes that Big Brother shouldn’t be monitoring our phone calls but yet somehow believes the state has a right to interfere in a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy.
This week, Sen. Paul is leading the charge on defunding Planned Parenthood after anti-abortion activists released deceptively edited videos that purport to show that the nonprofit organization benefits from fetal tissue donations. Paul is trading in the lie — there’s no other way to say it — that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts. In fact, when Planned Parenthood clinics donate fetal tissue for research, they do so only with the consent of the woman, and they are reimbursed enough only to cover the cost.
Some may object that Sen. Paul isn’t violating his libertarian principles because he’s simply working to stop government funding for the organization. But that’s not the issue. Rather, Paul is using the video opportunistically as a step toward his ultimate goal: preventing a woman who has decided to have an abortion from getting one.
Federal funds should pay for all abortions, but they don’t — they only cover abortions in cases where the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman or resulted from rape or incest. So why is Paul making all this fuss about defunding Planned Parenthood?
Sen. Paul has made no secret that he wants to make abortion illegal. He has promised to support any legislation that would end it. In March 2013, Paul introduced the Life at Conception Act, which, had it passed, would have defined human life as beginning at conception, granted fertilized eggs the same legal status as people, and outlawed abortion in all circumstances. The only exception Paul thinks there should be is if denying the abortion would cause the woman to die. And even here Paul is late to the game, only conceding that exception two years ago.
In a statement on behalf of the National Pro-Life Alliance, Paul characterized the Supreme Court as having “played god with innocent human life,” accusing the court of having “condemned more than 56 million babies to painful deaths without trial merely for the crime of being inconvenient” since the Roe v. Wade in decision in 1973. This is a slanderous and callous characterization of the three in 10 American women who have decided to terminate a pregnancy and shows that Paul has little concern for one of the most fundamental civil liberty protections for women, as if mere convenience is all that is at stake for these women and their families.
Given his goals, it’s no surprise that he would take advantage of the recent controversy to further them. But here’s the thing: More than 90 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides are preventive, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and HIV — and it is primarily low-income women who benefit from these services.
And the controversy he is basing this bill on is dishonest and manufactured by a disreputable group of anti-abortion activists who have launched 10 attacks on Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health centers of the last eight years through trickery, deceit, and outright lies. One of the organization’s board members, Troy Newman, has called the murder of doctors who provide abortions “justifiable.”
Nonetheless, on Twitter, Sen. Paul tweeted that the video shows a “top doctor describing how she performs late-term abortions to sell body parts for profit!” The full video shows no such thing, with Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services explicitly stating: “Our goal, like I said, is to give patients the option without impacting our bottom line. The message is this should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that’s not what it is.”
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