Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rand Paul becomes the third presidential candidate to drop out after the Iowa Caucuses. Washington Post.

Senator Rand Paul (R). Washington Post/AP.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has suspended his campaign for the White House, becoming the third candidate to drop out after the Iowa Caucuses. Washington Post. Paul's campaign never really caught on and he was never able to capitalize on his father, Ron Paul's success in previous elections. Libertarian supporters never quite trusted Rand Paul due to being seen as too much of a Washington insider when compared to his father. The campaigns of Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz, also damaged his campaign due to siphoning off the protest vote. Paul is still running for re-election for his Kentucky senate seat, which will be targeted heavily by the Democrats. Paul declined to endorse a candidate for president. 

My Comment:
I'm sad to see Rand Paul go. Out of anyone in the race I think his beliefs and my beliefs were the closest. We are both right libertarians, and we are both harsh critics of the NSA domestic spying program. I generally agreed with Paul's other policies as well, and I always liked him a lot more then his father. The Libertarian criticism that Paul was too close to Washington was actually a plus for me because I am still less comfortable with libertarians then I am with Republicans. I think I like politicians with a strong libertarian streak much more then actual full-on capital L Libertarians...

So why did Rand Paul fail? There are quite a few reasons. I think the article is right in that Libertarians didn't trust Paul enough to really support him. He is, for better or worse, a Washington insider and he is a major figure in the Republican leadership. That doesn't sit well with many Libertarians, especially when Paul had to compromise with both Democrats and Republicans on some of his legislation.  I think more then a few people think that Rand Paul is a Republican first and a libertarian second, which was the opposite of his father. That means that many of his fathers supporters weren't going to back Rand Paul.

I also think that Donald Trump completely destroyed his campaign. I know Trump would like to make it sound like it is completely his doing, but I think it has more to do with how Paul acted and the fact that Trump was even in the race. Trump obviously took most of the protest vote, along with Ted Cruz, which left Paul high and dry. For someone that is considered a political maverick like Paul, having a truly absurd number of outsider candidates in the race really hurt him. Trump was probably did the most damage though as many alt-right and protest votes fled from Paul the second Trump started up on immigration. 

Paul also did a poor job at the debates. He had a few good moments but never really sold himself as a candidate. He spent way too much time attacking other candidates instead of showing America what he stood for. Attacking Donald Trump and his supporters was the worst move he could have done. Though both Trump and Paul would never admit it, they have a lot in common and, more importantly, so did their supporters. I know that quite a few people that had Paul as their first choice had Trump as a second or third choice and vise versa. Having Paul attack Trump, hard and right out of the gate, may have turned off a lot of people that otherwise would have liked Paul. Indeed, I think he should have done what Ted Cruz did and stay buddy-buddy with Trump until right before the Caucuses in Iowa. 

Or Paul could have just stuck with his own campaign and refrained from attacking other candidates. Though I loved it when he went after Chris Christie, I don't think it ever helped Paul and every second he wasted fighting him was time that he could have used to sell his ideas. 

No matter what though, I don't think that Paul ever had much of a real chance. There just aren't enough people out there that support libertarian ideas. And Paul's message seems very poorly timed. People don't want to talk about police reform when cities are burning due to race riots. People are also scared and don't necessarily want the NSA to be brought to heal when the threat of terrorism is so high. And Paul never came out strong on immigration when the main theme of the Republican primary is immigration. He just wasn't all that viable this time around.

I did mention that two other candidates dropped out and I briefly wanted to talk about them. First on the Democrat's side Martin O'Malley dropped out. I don't know why he even decided to run. Hillary Clinton was always the de-facto Democratic candidate and O'Malley had no possible chance of winning the nomination. Very few people know anything about him and his policies aren't all that different then Hillary Clinton. And Bernie Sanders has captured all of the anti-Clinton wing of the party. His only policy was gun control and that makes him a non-viable candidate for half the country at least. He only really had a chance if both Sanders and Clinton dropped out, or if Sanders and/or Clinton dropped dead or in Hillary's case, went to prison. With O'Malley out of the race, I wonder what will happen if Sanders and Clinton are both unable to finish the race? 

The other one was Mike Huckabee on the Republican side. I have always said that he made a much better vice presidential candidate then as a presidential one. He's not great on the issues but he makes a decent attack dog and could help a candidate without evangelical supporters to get them. Huckabee never really had a chance this year, but don't think I haven't noticed how he is trying to get on Donald Trump's good side. He went to his event when Trump skipped the last Republican debate and never took the opportunity to attack him even though he had plenty of chances. Huckabee may be out of the race but if Trump is the Republican candidate, I think his name is in the running for Vice President.

So now that Paul is out, who do I want to win the Republican nomination? Anyone that can beat Hillary Clinton that is not named Chris Christie. I don't know if I would vote for Clinton over Christie but if that was the choice I would be voting third party. Or even writing in a candidate since I think both of them are terrible. To answer the question legitimately, I don't really want anyone from the establishment to win. I really don't like how most of the Republicans seemingly want to go to war with Russia over Syria. Given that a war between Russia and the United States would most likely kill me and destroy everything I care about, I would like to avoid that. Hillary Clinton seems to be itching for the same fight so if the choice is between one of the establishment people like Rubio or Bush that want to enforce a no-fly zone, I will probably vote for one of them. The theory is that if I somehow survive the nuclear holocaust, at least I will still have my guns if a Republican is in the White House.

That leaves Trump, and Cruz for people that I don't think will cause the world to end. I guess Bernie Sanders is in that discussion as well, but I just can't see myself voting for someone who I consider a communist. Better dead then red, comrade. Of the two Republicans I think I like Trump the best just because I am not a fan of the Evangelical wing of the party. Cruz creeps me out more then a little bit with his constant pandering to the religious right. Not being all that religious myself I find it tiresome and annoying. I also think that Cruz has some major problems, especially the natural born citizen issue. He hasn't gotten in front of that threat and I think it could end up destroying his campaign. If my states primary was held today, or at anytime when it was still relevant, I would probably vote for Trump to be the candidate. Still, anything could happen between now and November, so who knows who I will want by then...    

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