Sen. Rand Paul is in demand.
Sen. Paul (R-KY) has been to 30 states in the last 12 months leading up to the midterm elections to help U.S. Senate, U.S. House, gubernatorial, and state and local Republican candidates nationwide. He has keynoted state GOP conventions in Texas, California, Idaho, and Maine and rallied students at colleges and universities, ranging from the conservative University of South Carolina to liberal Berkeley to the bellwether Universities of Iowa and New Hampshire–and many in between. He’s been leading inner city GOP efforts in Detroit, Chicago, and even the race-riot-rocked Ferguson, Missouri. Paul was the only national elected Republican who spoke at the National Urban League conference. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the RNC, also spoke there.
For someone who has not run for president–at least not yet–Paul’s probably been the GOP’s most visible and most sought after surrogate this year.
“We’ve been getting a lot of requests, and people reach out because they think we can get voters beyond the Republican Party, we can reach independents, and in the last final days of elections, elections go one way or another based on undecideds,” Paul said. “That’s where the real power is in politics–in those who can sway the uncommitted. I think a lot of the invitations we’ve gotten, frankly, are because they think we can have influence on the independent voters.”
Whatever it is about Paul that intrigues voters is working. He says it’s because he appeals to a wide swath of independent-minded voters he calls the “leave-me-alone coalition.”
I think there’s a coalition of people, I call them the “leave-me-alone coalition,” and these are people who kind of just want to be left alone. It could be young people who don’t want the government looking through their cell phone records, it could people of religious faith who don’t think the government should be monitoring our sermons or requesting sermons to review. It could be people who believe that economic opportunity in our big cities just hasn’t come with Democrat policies and high taxes. I’m in Detroit today talking about economic freedom zones. So I think there’s a whole host of issues–and I think ultimately Americans want a strong national defense, but they don’t want us to be involved in every civil war around the world. So I think a certain degree of reluctance to go to war, combined with a significant degree of resolve from the country is certainly something that appeals to a lot of people beyond our party.
Republican candidates are practically begging him for help. There’s hardly a day that goes by nowadays where he’s not on the campaign trail backing up GOP Senate candidates or stepping onto the front lines of hard-fought governor’s races. On Wednesday, he was in Detroit, Michigan, a trip on which he was backing incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s tough but expected-to-be-successful re-election battle and backed GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land. The day before, he was in Kansas helping incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) against liberal “independent” Greg Orman. While he was there, he backed Sam Brownback’s re-election as governor and helped House candidates Reps. Mike Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp.
Paul had just rolled an out an ad for Roberts on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News program earlier in the week, right after he got back from a trip to Georgia to campaign alongside GOP U.S. Senate nominee David Perdue. He’s been to New Hampshire to endorse GOP U.S. Senate nominee Scott Brown and campaigned for gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein–after delivering the keynote address at the state party’s post-primary unity breakfast.
After endorsing Thom Tillis’ primary challenger, Greg Brannon, earlier in the year, a couple weeks ago, Paul ventured into Raleigh, North Carolina, to back Tillis–the GOP nominee–against incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC). Later that night, he campaigned for Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) at a barbecue event where hundreds of Jones–and Rand–supporters attended.
Paul rallied with Dave Brat and Ed Gillespie in Virginia, and he has campaigned for Joni Ernst in Iowa a few times. Although he has not made that lengthy trek up to Alaska, Paul is being blasted around the Last Frontier’s airwaves in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad for Republican Dan Sullivan. Paul’s been to Arkansas for Tom Cotton and in Nebraska for Ben Sasse, and is featured in forthcoming robo-calls for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. John Dennis, the GOP candidate challenging Nancy Pelosi for her House seat, was lucky to have Paul’s support, even though he has virtually no chance of winning. Paul visited Idaho not just for the state GOP convention there, but also to campaign for Rep. Raul Labrador’s re-election. He’s campaigned for South Carolina Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan, and for Iowa’s Steve King, Rod Blum, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks. While in Maine, Paul endorsed Gov. Paul LePage’s re-election. In the D.C. area, he’s also been to several events with Maryland congressional candidate Dan Bongino.
To top it off, Paul ensured his home state colleague and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s likely victory by backing him in the primary and then in the general election, helping McConnell against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
In the middle of it all, Paul went on a medical mission to Guatemala to perform pro bono eye surgeries– a trip on which Breitbart News accompanied him–and he witnessed firsthand the other side of the border crisis.
And that’s not the totality of Paul’s involvement.
“Senator Paul has done a great deal to advance the cause of liberty this election cycle,” FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe told Breitbart News. “His energy, principled approach, and outreach to non-traditional voters have made him a popular surrogate in almost every race across the country. We need more guys like him in Washington that are ready to shake things up.”
Eliana Johnson, the National Review‘s D.C. editor and one of the first to notice Paul’s nationwide efforts on behalf of the GOP, noted in a late September piece that Paul’s “ubiquity contrasts with that of some of his colleagues,” like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Rubio, who took a massive hit in popularity after pushing through the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, has focused his efforts on some key Senate races like those in Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, and New Hampshire. A Rubio aide told Johnson at the time that Rubio wanted to “make a big impact by focusing on a handful of races.”
But Paul’s focus is bigger. Not only is he aiming to win key races, but he is attempting to organize the Republican Party around his message. As Paul strengthens the party, he is also building his own brand ahead of a likely White House run in 2016–and increasing his presence in key presidential states. But he is also showing a stark contrast between himself and President Obama, the current leader of the Democratic Party. He also frequently draws contrasts between himself and Hillary Clinton, the likely 2016 Democratic nominee, almost as if he’s looking past the 2016 GOP primary to begin fighting the general election.
“I think Democrats see Sen. Paul as a serious threat,” Matt Moore, the South Carolina GOP chairman, told Breitbart News recently. “He’s talking about issues that no one else is willing to talk about. I like that he’s trying to connect with every American, not just Republicans or Democrats. It’s refreshing and unique.”
“Senator Rand Paul is a strong advocate for the Republican principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberty,” New Hampshire GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn added. “He was extremely well received by our grassroots activists at our Republican Unity breakfast, and we look forward to welcoming him back to the Granite State again soon.”
On the campaign trail this year, most Democrats, save a few, have outright distanced themselves from the President and avoided his help. Paul said the President’s failures are something he’s noticed nationwide, and they will help the Republicans take back the Senate, embolden their House majority, and win key elections in state governments across the country.
“I think the wind is at our back,” Paul said. “Everything the President has touched in recent months has turned to stone. The economy is not that great. There’s less people working than were working six years ago. The President’s overreach with regard to immigration, his under reach with regard to Ebola–all the different things he’s tried to do without coming to Congress, war powers, et cetera–I think most of the public is just alarmed at kind of a directionless President.”
Paul added that Alison Lundergan Grimes–whom he calls “Mrs. Grimes”–is likely to lose in Kentucky because she would not tell voters whom she voted for in the last presidential election.
“That’s what’s done in Mrs. Grimes in Kentucky–if she can’t even admit who she voted for, the leader of her party, that she supported him, how is she to be trusted on other issues?” Paul asked, adding:
It’s the same way out in Kansas. I was out in Kansas yesterday, and they’ve got an “independent.” It’s one thing to be independent, but if you don’t tell the voters who you’re going to side with, it’s like you’ve really been in politics to this degree and you don’t know which side better represents your ideas? There’s a great big difference in the Senate between the Republicans and the Democrats. Democrats want to raise taxes, Republicans want to lower them. Democrats want to increase regulations, Republicans are the opposite. So for Greg Orman out in Kansas to say he hasn’t decided makes people just wonder whether he’s being honest with them.
Democrats are “collapsing,” Paul said, because of a failing President, whose policies not only do not work, but are backfiring on Americans.
“Running away from the President, not willing to be forthright, all of those things are just–I think the Democrats’ campaigns are just collapsing before our very eyes,” Paul said. “The race in Colorado is sort of almost comical that Democrats are saying Republicans are against condoms. So I see a collapse of the Democrat platform right now.”
When asked what the grassroots conservatives can do to help bring Republicans across the finish line in the key battles nationwide, Paul said they should get involved in phone banks and door-to-door efforts with grassroots groups, their candidates’ campaigns, and local GOP outfits.
Enthusiasm comes out in the very end, whether or not you’ve got people showing up to phone banks and making that extra mile on the phones and whether or not you’ve got people going door to door. Whether or not you’ve got people doing that, you can tell whether turnout is generated.
“I think the wind is at our backs,” Sen. Paul asserted, “and there’s an enthusiasm gap on the other side, and I really think there’s a great deal of dissatisfaction with the President. I really truly think this will be a referendum on the President.”