Thursday, February 4, 2016

Flashback on Rand Paul Accolades

Politico has catalogued some of the many instances in which media waxed poetic about how fascinating Sen. Rand Paul is, and how he would inevitably get the Republican nomination and then win the general election.

It's a good reminder of why it made sense for Paul to seek and RPK to agree to the caucus:

Take, for example, these comments -- not from Republican fans:

“Rand Paul will win the whole thing because he can win Iowa, New Hampshire, he can win South Carolina, and he's the only candidate you listed there that can win all three.” (Chris Matthews, Real Clear Politics, November 2, 2013)

“If the GOP want to defeat Clinton next fall, they should turn to the only Republican whose buzz rivals hers: Rand Paul.” (Brian O’Connor, the New Republic, April 13, 2015)

“If he announces, he’ll be considered a first-tier candidate.” (James Carville, Vogue, September 16, 2013)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rand Is Out

Sen. Rand Paul has suspended his campaign. He was right to do so, and right to do so now. It's a three-way race, and he can be more influential by helping Marco Rubio at this point (which I hope he is inclined to do).

He is in good shape in Kentucky.  He will get reelected -- and without huge infusions of cash from the NRSC, so they need to stop whining. Yes, Democrat Jim Gray can self fund, and has been a popular mayor. Nonetheless, he will not win. And not because he's gay. Kentuckians like Rand Paul and they like his message. His work is not done on behalf of Kentucky and on behalf of the cause of freedom.

Now that Rand is out, the Kentucky caucus will not pose the conflict many of us felt. I would have voted for Rand as our native son. But I would have felt that in so doing, I was missing an opportunity to help Marco Rubio.  So I'm glad I don't have to worry about being loyal to the Kentuckian.

This is the first, maybe the last time Kentucky's primary actually matters in selecting our party's nominee.  I therefore do not mind that I will have to drive a little farther to caucus. Those who are griping about the caucus now being unnecessary due to Rand dropping out are missing this point:  we finally get a vote in selecting our party's presidential nominee, for the first time in the 20 years I have lived here.

I don't resent Rand for the caucus; I thank him for the opportunity it has given us. And I don't resent Rand for running for president. As I wrote in my last Courier-Journal column (reprinted below) I am sorry it did not work out for him, but I am still proud of him and appreciate the courage and sacrifice he made by running for president.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Need Your Input Here

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed me to an eight-member Congressional Commission to explore the possibility of a National Women's History Museum on or near the Mall in Washington,D.C.

We are gathering public input as part of our research for our report to Congress.

I would very much appreciate anyone who has 90 seconds taking this survey. Not just women -- men, too!

Thanks in advance for your help.

How About That Turnout!

As I had anticipated, the polling was way off. Trump's supporters are just baffled as a result. I feel bad for them, particularly those who are new to politics. I hope they remain engaged.

Trump's results offer a cautionary tale: organization still matters.

How fascinating that Bernie tied Hillary. This is the Clinton Machine, after all. The guy isn't even a Democrat. And yet he tied her. That does not bode well for Hillary.

The historically high turnout suggests there is a hunger for change from Hope and Change. I predict New Hampshire will also see high turnout.

Marco Rubio's showing in third place -- almost bumping off Trump for second -- shows that this is now a three-person race on the Republican side. Things are starting to coalesce. I'd therefore respectfully disagree with the remaining Republican candidates who suggest that the race is "wide open." It is not.

One of the biggest stories of last night did not occur in Iowa. Rubio scored a coveted endorsement from Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina.

Scott recently spoke at the McConnell Center at University of Louisville, where I had the privilege of meeting him. What a great guy- smart, funny engaging, strong faith, conservative. He has a bright future in this party. And I think he -- like Rubio -- can do much to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party to minorities whom Democrats have taken for granted for too long, and for whom progressive policies have been a disaster.

The South Carolina primary, to my mind, is much more important that Iowa or New Hampshire. Rubio's odds of winning South Caroline just went way up. That's a good thing.

Monday, February 1, 2016

So Who Will Win Iowa?

I expect Donald Trump to win followed by Marco Rubio.  This may just be my hope - that Rubio edges out Ted Cruz, whom I detest.

I think there is a real possibility that Rand Paul will finish fourth, as a result of his father's organization and a very good debate performance last week.

Iowa is a lousy predictor of who will ultimately win the nomination; it is by no means representative of the rest of the country. The RNC should rework the primary system to displace Iowa as first in the nation. All this money gets wasted there for at the end of the day very few electoral votes.

The real question I have about tonight's results is this:  how accurate will the polling appear compared to actual votes?

Kentuckians have witnessed some wildly inaccurate polls in recent election cycles, done by formerly reputable pollsters. My sense is that pollsters have not adapted to the demise of the land line.

On the Democrat side, it would be fun to see Hillary get Berned. A decent nominee should be able to beat either one, so it probably makes little difference as to Republican chances in November.

Trump is scheduled to go to Little Rock following the Iowa caucuses. Presumably Mike Huckabee will announce he is bowing out and endorse Trump. This will be a great opportunity for Trump to remind voters of Bill Clinton as sexual predator and the general smarminess of the Clintons.

Friday, January 29, 2016

I'm Getting Sick of Debates

Is it only January?  We watched last night's debate and flipped back and forth to The Donald's Rally.

Marco Rubio had a terrific debate. The more I see of him, the more I like him, notwithstanding his Gang of Eight history.

This was probably Rand Paul's best debate. He looked healthy and relaxed; hopefully his neck issues have resolved. We saw more of the humor and warmth that those of us in Kentucky expect but had been missing from his earlier debates.

With regards to the Donald's rally, I was not bothered by Trump skipping the Fox Debate. He makes his own rules; that's what people like about him. His rally did seem a little like the Jerry Lewis Telathon.

How fascinating that Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee joined it. That was really astute for them to attend and for Trump to invite him. This cannot help but strengthen Trump with evangelicals.

 As for Santorum and Huckabee, they know it's over. But they have issues that they care deeply about and need to promote their personal brand. Either of these gentlemen would be big assets in a cabinet.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Good News for Rand in New Hampshire

A new CNN/WMUR poll puts Sen. Rand Paul within the striking distance of Sen. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

But for the continued presence of Donald Trump, it would be a real dog fight.

Trump 34
Cruz 14
Rubio 10
Bush 10
Paul 6
Christie 6
Kasich 6
Fiorina 4
Carson 3
Huckabee 1

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My C-J Column on Rand's Run

Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal:

Fox Business News’s decision to keep Sen. Rand Paul off the main debate stage in South Carolina last week manifested more of the bad luck that has dogged Paul throughout his presidential campaign.
A poll taken in the window that FBN used to determine debate participants showed Paul in fifth place: high enough for the main debate. However — through no fault of the Paul campaign — that poll result was not released until just after FBN’s cutoff.
When FBN offered Paul a spot in the “undercard debate,” he startled many by declining.
Paul then did the best he could with a bad situation by getting more interviews than he could have obtained as a debate participant.
Paul’s presidential campaign has not taken off the way many of us had hoped. That’s a disappointment, not an embarrassment.
Fifth place in a Republican field overflowing with qualified contenders, any one of whom would be better than President Barack Obama, is more than respectable, particularly given this competition.
Moreover, many presidents did not get the nomination on the first try, including Ronald Reagan.
Paul has had the supremely bad luck of running against a force of nature, Donald Trump. The Donald took Paul’s attributes as a politically incorrect outsider and applied steroids.
Regardless of what happens in Iowa or New Hampshire or who wins the nomination, Paul’s political record is still enviable.
Paul has never lost an election. He defeated a heavy favorite, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, in his primary. He eviscerated Jack “Beware of Aqua Buddha” Conway in the general election. Paul is 2 and 0 for elections.
He then went on to make the cover of Time magazine multiple times.
Paul’s impact in the U.S. Senate and on public policy generally has been outsized for a first-term senator. And at a time when the public says it wants bipartisan problem-solving, Paul has shown that it is possible, without compromising one’s principles.
For example, Paul has co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Cory Booker on criminal justice reform, And he has co-sponsored with Sen. Kristin Gillibrand legislation to improve access to justice for victims of rape in the military.
Paul’s voting attendance record in the Senate is near perfect (94 percent) despite his presidential campaign.
One of my favorite things about Kentucky is that because we are a small state, we have many opportunities to interact with our leaders. This is true not just for rich donors; anyone who wants to become involved in his or her party can volunteer and know our candidates in short order.
For those who are not political, it’s still easy to meet our elected leaders at Rotary Cluband Chamber of Commerce events and the like. Indeed, Paul continues to appear at town halls across the commonwealth notwithstanding his presidential campaign and Senate roll calls.
Paul went to Ashland to discuss the effect of high corporate taxes on steel industry jobs. He has fought downsizing for Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. He is looking out for what the Department of Energy does to the Paducah site. He has visited Corbin to discuss the heroin epidemic, visited small businesses in the West End of Louisville and traveled to Pikeville to witness the devastation the Obama administration has wrought against the coal industry.
And in his down time, he performs cataract surgery, pro bono.
Those who suggest that Paul’s presidential run will hinder his Senate reelection — that Kentuckians will punish him for a failed presidential run — ignore this reality.
Many Kentucky voters have met Paul. We’ve personally taken his measure. We’ve seen his sense of humor, his intellect, his respect for the Constitution and his love of liberty.
Nor will Kentucky Republicans punish Paul for requesting (and initially financing) our upcoming caucus on March 5.
For the first time, Kentucky has a voice in the presidential primary by awarding delegates before any candidate has passed the threshold necessary for nomination.
Eleven Republican presidential candidates have each paid $15,000 to participate; what was supposed to be a huge drain on the Republican Party of Kentucky may be a money maker.
One hundred and eleven of 120 Kentucky counties will have caucus locations; those voters residing outside counties with caucus locations will have only a short drive to a nearby county to participate. This grassroots effort will help the Republican Party get data and volunteers. It cannot help but strengthen local parties and lay the way to get out the vote when it’s time to flip the House this November.
It’s going to be a day for Kentucky Republicans to reconnect and to welcome new registrants and volunteers to the party. There will not be any backlash against Paul for requesting the caucus, regardless of the outcome.
Running for president, or any office, takes guts. Good for Rand for putting himself out there.