Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is the Republican front-runner for President in 2016, according to Scott Jennings, a former George W. Bush deputy political director now running a super PAC in Kentucky.
The veteran Republican strategist asserts, “The political instinct of when to do things is not something you teach–you either have it or you don’t. He’s got a knack for finding populist issues showing why the government is stupid, and people like it.”
According to Josh Kraushaar at the National Journal, Rand Paul “scares the living daylights out of many Republicans looking for an electable nominee capable of challenging Hillary Clinton.” The Journal says that time will tell “whether Paul is the modern version of Barry Goldwater or at the leading edge of a new, more libertarian brand of Republicanism.”
Senator Paul’s long trusted adviser, Jesse Benton, says that breaking through is a big challenge but he is optimistic: “He’s a fundamentally better messenger than Barry Goldwater–[Goldwater’s 1964 campaign slogan] ‘In your heart you know he’s right’ is not very compelling. Rand is a wonderful communicator, and I think a message of individual liberty can build wide support.”
Kraushaar asserts that the Senator is “doing more than almost any other Republican to expand the party’s appeal to nontraditional GOP voters–the type of activity that’s imperative for future success.” For example, Paul gave a speech at Howard University and historically black Simmons College in Kentucky (twice) as part of an outreach effort toward African-Americans. Moreover, Kraushaar points out that his program of “economic freedom zones” modeled after Jack Kemp’s one time project has captured the ear of the NAACP, which invited him to speak.
Significantly, according to Kraushaar, Paul has developed an important alliance with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which has “helped him build chits with the establishment, including donors skeptical of his national viability.”