In an attempt at some Political Blog housekeeping, here are a few Paul updates from the last week, (I updated Jack Conway's campaign in a separate post). Paul has a series of events in Southeastern Kentucky on Wednesday.
Both Tea Party and establishment national Republicans are campaigning for Paul in Kentucky, including several whose name are mentioned as potential presidential hopefuls, former Arkansas Governor and candidate Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former Vice-Presidential candidate Haley Barbour. Guided by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul also received more fundraising support from incumbent GOP senators, including some who voted for bailouts.
On Saturday, Paul will be joined in Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati media market) by his father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the libertarian icon, and the emerging conservative kingmaker, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Attention Northern Kentucky reporters: need to ask DeMint whether he would accept the mantle of Republican Leader of the Senate.
Paul attended a “meet and greet” appearance sat the the Southwest Government Center in Louisville on Friday. Councilmember Doug Hawkins said he reserved the government building as a private citizen so the use of a Metro facility does as arranged by a sitting Metro Council Member does not violate the city's ethics code. Hawkins says the building is used for a variety of community groups, such as neighborhood associations.
The AFL-CIO had a strong presence at the event, from which Paul made a hasty exit after delivering about a 15 minute speech.
The labor organization quoted a member and a local minister who attended Paul's speech:
“I’ve already lost two jobs because of NAFTA and I wanted to ask Rand Paul if he supports free trade and trade deals that are destroying the middle class right here in Kentucky.” Gayle, clearly disappointed that Paul had left so quickly went on to say, “it’s not right that rich corporations can take jobs overseas and not reinvest in America – it’s a shame [Paul] ran away before we even got the chance to ask him a single question.”
“I came out here to address Paul’s belief that private businesses should have the right to deny service to individuals solely based on the color of their skin,” said Pastor Keith Bush of First Gethsemane Church. “I have four grandchildren. What would I say to my grandchildren when they share with me that they were denied the right to eat at a restaurant with friends solely because of the color of their skin? Paul didn’t afford us with the opportunity to defend his stance on that issue.”
The Paul campaign also disclosed two private events he attended in Louisville:
Dr. Paul attended a private meeting with a group of pastors led by local school choice advocate Pastor Jerry Stevenson, and concerned parents and grandparents in Louisville's west end. The group discussed concerns about the education system and ways to find solutions to the problems faced in their area, which like many disadvantaged areas has continued to struggle under current education policies.
Later, Dr. Paul took a tour of the Neighborhood House in the Portland section of Louisville. The Neighborhood House is a community-based organization located in one of Louisville's most economically disadvantaged communities. It provides programs and services for community members ranging from newborns to seniors, focusing on educational enhancement, civic responsibilities, cultural enrichment, health promotions, social skills development, employment opportunity and training. One of its main purposes is providing local children with a safe environment during after-school hours to study and participate in positive activities.
The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee (CCAGW PAC) announced its endorsement of Paul:
“In this time of massive new government spending and bailouts, huge budget deficits, public debt, and inefficient bureaucracies, taxpayers need friends in Washington who will defend their interests, not the special interests,” said Thomas Schatz, Chairman of CCAGW PAC. “That is why CCAGW PAC supports Rand Paul, who is a bona fide fiscal conservative committed to reducing the size of government by working to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.”
The National Federation of Independent Business announced its endorsement of Paul:
“As a doctor and small business owner, Rand Paul has a unique understanding of one of small business’ most important issues - healthcare,” said Lisa Goeas, NFIB’s vice president for political operations. “Our small business membership knows that Rand Paul is one of their own, that he understands their perspective on healthcare and on the overall challenges of running a business. This means they are even more likely to actively support his candidacy by encouraging their employees, friends and family members to turn out and vote for him on Election Day,” Goeas said. “We believe that Rand Paul will help the Senate develop policies that let small business do what it does best, which is create jobs and grow the economy.”
This debate is at its most intense inside the head of Mitch McConnell. During the primary, McConnell's only meeting with Paul took place in a hangar at the Louisville airport. According to a person familiar with the conversation, McConnell pressed Paul to pledge to vote for him for Republican leader—something Paul refused to do. (Billy Piper, McConnell's chief of staff, denies that his boss sought Paul's commitment.) All these months later, Paul still won't make a firm pledge. "The whole question of 'Will Rand vote for McConnell for leader?' is a power play," explains one Paul ally. "If Mitch is a little bit on edge, so much the better. He should be."
The more (Tea Party candidates) become an electoral force, the more the Republican establishment has to cater to them, and the more vocal and disruptive to the party's actual agenda they'll potentially become. It's one thing to oppose Obama; it's another to oppose legislation and threaten relationships that have been central to how the GOP does business. Paul doesn't support the military spending most of his fellow Republicans slobber over. He doesn't support handing out big fat prescription-drug benefits to private insurance companies. He doesn't support the earmarks that Republican senators, especially McConnell, use to curry favor with voters back home. And in a chamber where arcane procedural rules make it possible for a single member to gum up the legislative works, the presence of just one rogue Republican—much less a whole Tea Party caucus of them—could be enough to make the Senate Republicans finally seem as undisciplined and dysfunctional as the Democrats.