Very soon presidential candidates will be announcing their intentions for 2016. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is expected to declare her candidacy in April. It may be advantageous for Republicans to announce their plans sooner. The number of potential White House residents is expected to be large, and each will need time to state their case. Some are unquestionably in the middle of a campaign, although they are unannounced. One very likely to enter his name into the battle is Senator Rand Paul, from Kentucky. He will offer himself and his views to Republican and TEA Party potential voters on two fronts. He is gambling by the word’s definition, and if he fails, he will have committed ‘politicide.’
His platform closely follows the principles of libertarians. Following in his father’s footsteps, he preaches a policy of individualism, and the elimination of government control over the vast majority of social and personal issues. He is hoping that he does not follow his father in one respect; Ron Paul lost his bid as the Republican nominee three times.
Paul expects to convince younger Republican voters that he is a fresh approach in Washington; that his philosophy and ideas will protect the rights of all Americans. If he fails to convince conservatives that he would give Republicans the greatest chance to defeat Hillary Clinton, he will be swept aside.
Mr. Paul has not yet learned that there are times when an experienced politician should refrain from becoming involved in emotional issues. This week he mistakenly became involved in the discussion of measles in the United States. Adhering to Libertarian principles, he said that he does not believe that parents should be forced to vaccinate their children; but he didn’t stop when he should have. He continued by saying that he knew of children who suffered serious mental problems after being vaccinated. The medical community was outraged.
When the media pounced on his remarks, he backtracked and claimed that his comments were taken out of context.
Polls reveal that nationally Paul is slightly behind Jeb Bush. In Iowa, which holds the first caucus, he is trailing only Mike Huckabee. Iowa voters tend to move far to the religious right where Huckabee has the most support.
Paul may have received a small blow to his campaign when Mitt Romney chose not to run for a third time. With Romney in the picture, media focus would have been on the struggle between the former Massachusetts’ governor and Jeb Bush. Paul would have been the alternative to both men who are considered GOP mainstream politicians. Many Republicans would likely have looked to Paul as a fresh approach to conservative ideals.
When Paul suggested that all foreign aid be cancelled, including that for Israel, politicians vehemently criticized the Senator. It appears he is attempting to reconcile with the Jewish community. His top digital strategist has been dispatched to Israel to aid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his bid for a fourth term.
Mr. Paul began campaigning for the presidency the day after he took the oath of office as a United States Senator in 2011. The talent he appears to have mastered is the art of pandering. Not only has he changed his position regarding foreign aid for Israel, he speaks frequently to groups of black voters, attempting to convince them that their concerns are his concerns. I’m certain that most of them remember Paul’s past statements that he believes portions of the Civil Rights Act should be repealed. He claimed that owners of private business should have the right to choose who they wish to have as customers.
Back to the good old days in Kentucky when only white faces were seen at lunch counters.
Commentary by James Turnage