Rand Paul, the iconoclastic, libertarian-isolationist who’s thinking about the White House in 2016, is getting some flak in Iowa. An avatar of the GOP’s far right, Paul will be in Iowa in June to speak at the state Republican party convention, along with two other GOP 2016 long shots, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal. However, perhaps as a pre-emptive move, because Paul has shown some strength in recent Iowa polls, the Republican establishment in Iowa executed a power play against Paul’s allies, and the allies of his father, former Representative Ron Paul (R.-Texas), ousting the “liberty” faction tied to the Pauls from control of the state GOP apparatus. According to The Des Moines Register, an alliance of mainstream-establishment Republicans and evangelicals—who are a leading force in Iowa politics—came together to get rid of the Ron Paul/Rand Paul acolytes who took over the state GOP in 2012.
It’s another sign that Rand Paul doesn’t stand much of a chance of winning the GOP nomination, though—like his father—he can last long into the primary season by relying on his rather fanatical, government-hating crew of radicals.
Still, Paul is a powerful force, and one that has bamboozled a number of left-progressives drawn to Paul because of his opposition to interventions abroad and domestic spying at home. Even Ralph Nader, quixotically now seeking a left-right alliance against corporatism, seems to want the liberal left to eschew Hillary Clinton for Paul. Recently, Nader said that Rand Paul might emerge as a leader of the “alliance” he seeks. Why Nader, who almost singlehandedly invented the modern version of government regulation that developed in the 1960s and ’70s, thinks that libertarians—who hate any and all government meddlin’ in people’s affairs—might support Nader’s ideas about anti-corporatism is beyond us.
In an analysis of the Iowa GOP’s move against Paulism, Jennifer Jacobs of the Register said that it “puts a new face on the Iowa GOP,” adding that “big donors who closed their checkbooks may start giving money to the state party again.” The Paul-allied liberty faction will fall back on local organizing in a bid to aid Paul’s campaign in the caucus state between now and 2016, she wrote. And the state party can focus on re-electing Governor Terry Branstad, she added.
Meanwhile, speaking of big money, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—who heads the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and is also a rival of Paul’s among would-be candidates in 2016—will make his first visit to Iowa in two years this month to raise money for Branstad. Christie, who’s been able to pull in record-setting amount for the RGA since taking over as chairman last fall, has also scheduled a fundraising trip to another early primary state, South Carolina, to raise money for Governor Nikki Haley. As the Register reports, and as Christie Watch noted recently, when Christie was asked whether his bullying, tough-guy style would appeal to Iowans, he replied: “They love me in Iowa, too.”
Unstated among the motives for the ouster of the Paulists in Iowa is Ron and Rand Paul’s fervent opposition to US interventionism overseas, a position that has attracted some on the left and enraged hawks, neoconservative and pro-Israel partisans. Paul’s views are in tune not only with the anti-interventionist left but much of the public, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that found that “47 percent of respondents said the United States should dial down its activity in foreign affairs, versus 19 percent who said the country should be more active around the globe.” That’s a stunning turnaround from the period just after 9/11, when revenge-minded Americans backed the George W. Bush administration’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.