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WaPo: Rand Paul’s ‘Libertarianish’ Refinement of His Father’s Movement

From the Washington Post:

Here we go again with presidential politics in the Live Free or Die state, with a man named Dr. Paul making his pitch in this historic town hall across from a vintage gazebo.

There’s hardly a place in America more receptive to Dr. Paul’s libertarian message, which drew big crowds in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. But this time it’s a different Dr. Paul — not 79-year-old libertarian hero Ron but his crafty, ambitious son Rand.

“Do we have any lovers of liberty in here?” the 52-year-old freshman senator from Kentucky asked Wednesday as he took the stage, and the “Stand with Rand” supporters standing all around him cheered affirmatively.

“When the founders of New Hampshire came up with the motto ‘Live Free or Die,’ they didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room,” Paul said. “I came to New Hampshire to announce that I will fight for your right to be left alone.”

The Pauls are the other political dynasty in presidential politics, and if they’re not quite the Bushes or Clintons, they’re still a recognizable brand, one crackling with intensity and quirky appeal.

Rand Paul’s ability to sell himself as the most libertarian of the presidential candidates — defending civil liberties at home and opposing military adventurism and nation-building abroad — is what can set him apart from his rivals. But those unconventional ideas could also box him in. Libertarians don’t win national elections, unless you count Thomas Jefferson in 1800 and 1804.

Still, Rand Paul’s greatest asset is the ideological jet fuel that helped his father get more than 2 million votes in the last set of Republican primaries. The son wants to convert that stuff to something less volatile and explosive. In his hands, it’s ideological kerosene.

Rand Paul is a more nimble, less predictable, more pragmatic politician than his father, who said “nay” so often in Congress that he was known as “Dr. No.” The younger Paul is an ophthalmologist who has won just one primary and general election and is still growing into his identity as a politician. But it’s clear he has been shifting closer to mainstream Republican positions, particularly on national defense, going so far as to call for a bigger Pentagon budget.

He’s even hedged on the “libertarian” label. In a recent tweet he wrote: “I’m a constitutional conservative. Libertarianish. Have a foot in both camps.”

This is an aspiring commander in chief walking a very fine line.

Read the rest of the story here.

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