Rand Paul may not have reached a level of political skill which will take him to the White House in 2016, but he gets and ‘A’ for effort. Immediately after he was sworn in to the United States Senate in 2011, he began a campaign for the presidency. He has kept his face and name in the public eye, and has never shown fear when speaking about the issues even when he was wrong. Criticism has followed him, including from members of his own GOP.
His latest criticism was a reaction by other TEA Party members and Republicans after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress last Tuesday. Some members of the GOP were angry with Rand for ‘not clapping loudly enough’ for Netanyahu.
Did Mr. Paul see through the farce which was his speech and recognize it for what it really was, a campaign speech for his reelection bid on March 17th? Or was his lack of enthusiasm confirmation of his previously stated position that the United States should cease giving foreign aid to Israel?
Maybe it was the speech itself. In an act of complete hypocrisy Republicans stood and applauded approximately 50 times, although nothing of substance was added to statements made several times previously. It’s always boring hearing the same message over and over again. And just maybe Mr. Paul was the only Republican who believed that accomplishing something for the American people who elected him took priority over praise for a leader of a foreign nation.
However, he is walking on a tightrope concerning the issue of Israel. In 1962 the United States began supplying aid to the Jewish State in the form of American dollars and armament. The majority of Jewish voters in the United States have historically supported Democrats. If Mr. Paul hopes to win Republican primaries and Caucus’ in states with a large Jewish population, he may be forced to find a new strategy.
Sheldon Adelson is a billionaire and a supporter of both GOP candidates and the State of Israel. After the speech by Netanyahu, and Mr. Paul’s apparent lack of a proper response, rumors began that Adelson intended to fund an effort to defeat Rand Paul. Mr. Paul says that he sat down with Mr. and Mrs. Adelson, and no such plan exists.
Interestingly the reaction to Netanyahu’s speech by Jewish-Americans was split. Some were supportive of Netanyahu’s words, and others, such as the Rabbi of the largest Jewish Synagogue here in Reno viewed it as purely political.
Mr. Paul’s next effort towards his ultimate goal is taking place in his home state of Kentucky. He is attempting to convince the state’s Republican leadership to change Kentucky’s primary to a Caucus. A Caucus does not count ballots, it counts voters who show up at a specified place and time. A Caucus would also allow Mr. Paul’s name to be placed twice on the form granting him the right to run for both the presidency and reelection for his Senate seat.
He is likely to face strong opposition. Changing what has existed for years is unlikely, and Kentucky has two large military bases. Absentee ballots have a great deal of importance to many voters who are unable to be at their polling place on a specific day, and none more so than our military men and women. They have experienced difficulty in the past with their attempts to vote, and changing to a Caucus would unlikely alter the situation.
Next month several, if not most, of the presidential hopefuls will formally announce their candidacy. Let the fun begin!
By James Turnage