It is fairly certain that one member of the Paul family will run for President this year. The question is, which one? Judging from the response he received to his keynote address at the Iowa GOP’s “Night of the Rising Stars”, the answer is Rand. The first term Kentucky Senator mixed historical anecdotes with a broad, but strong, conservative message that impressed the estimated crowd of 400 Iowa Republicans Saturday night.
The name of the event was geared toward freshman members of the Iowa Legislature. However, the true rising star of the night seems to be Rand Paul. TheIowaRepublican.com took an informal poll of attendees following the speech. It included party leaders, elected officials, activists, college students, and even campaign staffers already committed to other presidential candidates. The verdict was unanimous. Rand Paul’s performance was very impressive.
“I would say his stock rose significantly,” said Bobby Kaufmann, 25, of Wilton. Kaufmann says he would never vote for Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Rand’s father. However, he would now give consideration to the younger Paul. Both Pauls have expressed interesting in running for president in 2012. However, Rand says he will not run if his father does. His performance Saturday night clearly showed that Rand is the more dynamic speaker, and more electable, of the two.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley showered praise on Rand Paul during his introductory speech. “I think we can give him some credit, maybe all the credit, when he stood up in Boston in 2007 and said, ‘We need a modern day revolution.’” Grassley added that it is because of new legislators like Rand Paul that Republicans in Congress now consider the Constitution first. “It has never been a part of the thought process like it is now, and that’s good thing.”
Paul’s speech effectively wove stories of abolitionists with today’s pro-life movement. “There are times when we should fight for what’s right and not compromise or take the easy way out,” he said. Rand Paul has sponsored a federal Life at Conception Act. While some question Ron Paul’s stance on the abortion issue, Rand’s is clear. “Can a civilization long endure that doesn’t respect life? How will we be judged, when we have a way of life that says the law of the land doesn’t respect the unborn?” Paul received extended applause from the Iowa GOP crowd for that line.
Speaking without notes or a teleprompter, the Kentucky Senator smoothly segued from the life issue to federal spending. “We face a day of reckoning, not only a day of moral reckoning, but a day of fiscal reckoning,” Paul said. He explained in clear terms the financial difficulties the country faces, noting that we borrow $4 billion per day and spend $10 billion. “I proposed cutting $500 billion,” Paul said. “At home they say ‘That’s a good start’. In Washington, when I talk about cutting $500 billion, they look at me as if I have horns growing out of my head.”
Paul’s speech then ventured into the topic of foreign wars. While Ron Paul’s isolationist stance has alienated many Republicans, Rand Paul took a more measured approach that the crowd agreed with. He noted that President Bush received a lot of criticism for invading Iraq and Afghanistan, but he also came to Congress for the authorization to do so. So far, Barack Obama has failed to do that for his invasion of Libya. “This president sets an awful precedent,” Paul said. “He had time to go to the UN. He had time to go NATO. He had time to go to the Arab League. He had time to consult private citizens, but he didn’t have time to go down Pennsylvania Ave. and consult you, the American citizens through your elected representatives. That’s going to have to change.” Paul received a rousing ovation following his remarks.
He encouraged Iowans to “find the right person” to run against Obama in 2012. Serving only a few months in the U.S. Senate hardly makes one a credible presidential candidate, but that was no deterrent for the current occupant of the Oval Office. Rand Paul is clearly a rising star in the Republican Party and someone who could potentially shake up the presidential field. Although he would not be a frontrunner, Paul has a built-in base of diehard supporters who fervently back his father. He also has more mainstream appeal than what his father could ever hope for. If he runs, Rand Paul has the potential to make a significant impact the 2012 Iowa Caucus.
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