Standing in front of more than 100 South Carolina GOP activists in West Columbia Friday night, the Kentucky senator largely steered clear of the week's two dominant, divisive issues that are tying his party in knots: Gay rights and immigration reform.
Instead, he diverted from his early presidential-primary-state speech script and went for the jugular on a topic that, while not necessarily timely, would surely please a military-friendly crowd: A full-throated defense of profiling.
“After 9-11 we had a special program for student visas . . . Why?" Paul asked. "Because 16 of the 19 hijackers were overstaying their students visas. Was it targeting? Was it profiling? Yes. Because only certain people are attacking us. Why don’t we use some brain sense to go after the people who are attacking us?"
The guests ate it up, rewarding Paul with sustained thunderclaps. It was one of his biggest applause lines of the night. But it was also a curious statement from a likely 2016 White House contender who built his brand on a libertarian approach to government. This, from the same guy who stood on the Senate floor for 14 hours to protest the potential use of drones to target Americans?
Yet the undertones of Paul's full 23-minute speech to GOP activists at the state farmers' market were unmistakable: Rest assured, I'm not my father.
Paul is well-aware of his dad's reputation in the Palmetto State. Former Rep. Ron Paul barely competed in the 2012 primary here largely because his isolationist worldview was deemed a non-starter in a place home to eight military bases. In order to be competitive here three years from now, Rand knows he needs to vanquish Ron's long shadow.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Daily Beast Headline: 'Rand Paul: I'm Not My Dad'
The attempt to separate Rand from his father continues. The Daily Beast writes (My highlights):