Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rand Paul a Bundle of Contradictions

Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register writes:

For some Iowa Republicans, the Kentucky senator — not to be confused with his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas — embodies a bundle of contradictions.

Even before confirming suspicions he'll seek the White House in 2016, a few of his remarks have hit the wrong tone with people in each of the Iowa GOP camps — the evangelicals, the liberty conservatives, the tea partiers and the mainstream Republicans.

One evangelical conservative, Sioux City minister Cary Gordon, had this to say more than 600 days before the Iowa caucuses: "He's tried too hard to please too many people on too many issues. I can't support him. He's got too many contradictions for me."

Despite some reservations, other Iowa Republicans hope that Paul, who stands at the crossroads of constitutional conservatism and the establishment, will appeal to overlapping Iowa audiences as few candidates can.

On Friday night, Paul will speak at the state party's Lincoln Dinner, an event often viewed as a warm-up act for presidential campaigns.

Paul has seen his popularity heighten after he staged a 13-hour filibuster in early March to question the use of unmanned aircraft to perform targeted killings.

Many Iowans thought Paul, a soft-spoken eye surgeon, propelled himself to the front of the 2016 pack with what they considered a tenacious stand against the Obama administration's perceived power to kill Americans without due process. But some of them think he then damaged his credibility weeks later when he told Fox Business Network that he didn't care if a drone kills low-threat criminals such as armed liquor store robbers.

Another matter of contention: In a speech on immigration in mid-March, Paul said "we will find a place for you," referring to people living in the country illegally. He later clarified that he wasn't calling for a new path to citizenship. He just doesn't want to deport everyone.

Paul stepped into another controversy the same day after saying on CNN that he thinks there could be "thousands of exceptions" to any ban on abortion. An aide later clarified that the senator meant he believes in a single exception, to save the life of a mother, but that the exception could include thousands of individual cases.

The thought of winning over Iowa's hard to please, sometimes acrimonious GOP political camps doesn't seem to faze Paul. In a telephone interview with The Des Moines Register, he said he doesn't mind explaining why his positions should appeal to many political factions — and to dispute the notion that he's inconsistent.

"Part of the art of politics is bringing people together and fusing people who have varied interests into a unified force to win elections," he said. "That's what we've failed in the last two presidential elections in doing very well.

"So it's my hope that if I do get involved in this that I may be able to do that better."

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