Exclusive — Rand Paul: Jeb Bush Has ‘Electability Problem’

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images/AFP
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images/AFP

NAPLES, Florida — Wall Street seems to be wasting money on another Republican who may have no shot at the White House in former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of Bush’s biggest likely 2016 GOP primary opponents—Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.

“I think his main electability problem is with the Republican base,” Paul said.

What you need, I think, is someone who has the ability to excite the Republican base and expand the party. You can’t have someone who is so moderate that they think they can get the moderate vote but can’t excite the Republican base.

I think that is the biggest obstacle he has to overcome, is that being a moderate in a conservative party is difficult. When you refer to conservatives in the third person, as he did recently, that makes it even more difficult I think to connect with conservatives. When the first person you call when you decide to run is Hillary Clinton, that doesn’t really endear you to the grassroots.

Paul is saying that Bush may attempt to muscle his way to the nomination by appealing to moderate GOP voters nationwide with big fundraising and big government support, but if somehow Bush comes away with the nomination he won’t be able to get conservatives to show up and vote for him in November 2016. That was the same problem Mitt Romney faced in 2012, and John McCain in 2008—meaning that if Wall Street backs Bush in the primary, it may be supporting the prospects of Hillary Clinton or another Democrat.

Paul tells Breitbart News that Bush is likely to face widespread resistance from many Republican voters in the state where he was governor: Florida.

“One thing I noticed this morning about being in Florida, an early primary state, is that if I were Jeb Bush, I’d be very worried about his Common Core position because the one thing I noticed about the crowd this morning was the unity and enthusiasm in opposition to Jeb Bush’s position on Common Core,” Paul said.

Paul was referring to a grassroots event with Collier County Republicans on Saturday morning, where he spoke for about 30 minutes then took questions.

“Sen. Paul, Jeb Bush—through his influence over our state legislature—is killing our efforts to return our education system to our local communities and districts. What’s your view on Common Core?” one Republican activist asked Paul.

Paul responded by noting that he supports dismantling the entire Department of Education, including Common Core.

“Good question. I’m an old-fashioned conservative. I grew up supporting Ronald Reagan when it was part of our platform to get rid of the entire Department of Education. I still think we should,” Paul said.

The crowd of about 100 GOP grassroots activists, including many who aren’t the most conservative in the world, rose to its feet in thunderous applause for Paul.

“We found a Common Core in the English section that talks about the demise—it’s an op-ed that someone just put in there that you’re supposed to read for English comprehension and it talks about the Cold War,” Paul continued as the crowd quieted down.

It says, well, the Cold War finally ended when Reagan apologized to Gorbachev, they became friends and then Gorbachev ended the Cold War. That’s not exactly right. The danger of having a national curriculum where you use the bully force of the federal government to force things down is that bias could enter into the curriculum. I think that is a bias there.

My fear is that if one person makes a mistake in Washington—even a mistake on explaining math, which they’ve had some problems with. My son and I—kids don’t watch any of the news, but my son forwarded me something on Common Core and he forwarded me the math problem and we look at the math problem—I tested out of calculus, I’m pretty good at math—we were struggling to understand what they wanted us to get out of a two digit addition problem.

So the thing is I’m not here to tell you I know the best way to do two digit addition problems, you should figure that out locally with your teachers, your principals, your school boards. I’m not against national tests. When I was a kid, you took the College Board Achievement test. You should want to know how Florida compares to Kentucky and how it compares to India and China and all these other countries.

Comparison statistics is a great idea. It just shouldn’t be mandated from Washington. I’m very much opposed to any of this being in Washington. I’m on the Education committee, and I will introduce an amendment to try to stop and defund Common Core.

The room rose in thunderous applause again. “What a guy!” one man, an army veteran who had asked a previous question, yelled in admiration.

In his interview with Breitbart News later, Paul said that the GOP nominee needs to be a conservative who can reach out to new potential voting blocs without compromising principle.

“What I find as I’m traveling around the country is that people don’t want us to dilute our message,” Paul said.

They don’t want our message to be Democrat-light. They don’t want our message to be wishy-woshy. They want our message to be principled. They want us to boldly be for what we are for. I think you can be all of that and still find new voters by taking aspects of your message that haven’t been listened to and haven’t been heard to new venues. That doesn’t mean we give up on what we stand for.


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