The Rand Paul U.S. Senate campaign says former Mike Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman will not be working on the Paul campaign, after all. Meanwhile the Gun Owners of America have endorsed Paul in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, citing his "unwavering" commitment to the right to keep and bear arms.
Regarding Saltsman, Paul campaign spokesman David Adams acknowledged a "friendly conversation, yes. A job offer absolutely not." Adams said that includes no consulting work.
That's despite an internal campaign e-mail posted on pageonekentucky.com, in which Paul informs staffers on December 27 that Saltsman " will be doing some consulting for us," and that Saltsman should be copied on campaign e-mails.
Saltsman would have ostensibly offered Paul a bridge to the religious right in Kentucky, but Adams argues the Paul campaign does not need any help making inroads or explaining Paul's libertarian-minded views to conservative Christians.
"We are doing well geographically and ideologically," Adams said. "We are prepared. It's not going to cost any more money to make Rand more attractive to Kentucky."
Saltsman's reputation was forever altered when, in his bid to become Republican National Committee Chairman, he sent a CD of political parody songs to other RNC members, including the song "Barack the Magic Negro," by Rush Limbaugh's parody guy Paul Shanklin.
Exactly one year before the Paul e-mail, on December 27, 2008, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan of Kentucky assailed Saltsman, telling Politico he was "shocked and appalled" by the CD mailing. Saltsman withdrew his bid.
One has to wonder if the controversy played a role in Saltsman not getting hired by the Paul campaign. Last month, the Paul campaign fired spokesman Christopher Hightower after two liberal blogs in Kentucky publicized racist comments someone else had posted on Hightower's MySpace page.
Page One has not said how it got the Paul 12/27 e-mail, but one of the recipients on the original e-mail posted on Page One is Christi Gillespie, who later resigned from the Paul campaign saying it was “morally necessary” because the campaign had prohibited staffers from attacking the Republican Party or GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell.
"I hear nearly every day from supporters who think we have not been critical enough of Republican leadership. I also hear nearly every day from supporters who think we have been too critical of Republican leadership," spokesman David Adams said, "The point is that Rand's supporters differ on how they perceive our campaign messaging treating Republicans who aren't on the primary ballot, but they remain supporters of Rand's message of reform. We aren't going to add to any distractions by commenting publicly about strategy or internal communications."
"Why don't you ask the Grayson campaign what their policy is on making false statements about Rand?" Adams continued.
McConnell has not expressly endorsed Trey Grayson's Senate bid, but hosted a fundraiser for Grayson in Washington and another is scheduled in New York City. Tension between Paul and McConnell has been a public issue since an interview with me several months ago in which Paul declined to commit to supporting McConnell if he was challenged in a bid to repeat as Senate Minority Leader.
Perhaps because most political observers did not see Rand Paul coming, the Paul campaign has been the arguable pacesetter so far in the GOP primary, and perhaps among all U.S. Senate candidates, with impressive fundraising, active campaigning and now, endorsements.
In announcing the Gun Owners of America's endorsement today, Tim Macy, GOA’s Vice Chairman said "The Second Amendment is being incrementally destroyed by politicians who pay more attention to anti-gun New York Times editorials than to the words of the Founding Fathers.
The GOA is also a big supporter of Rand Paul's father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and displays a Ron Paul quote on the home page of its website, "The only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington," in an obvious reference to the National Rifle Association.
"It is time for a new way of thinking in Washington," Macy said in a statement, "We need real leaders who respect our Constitutional freedoms and who will stand up to the political establishment that is—literally—ruining our great country.
“Rand Paul’s commitment to the right to keep and bear arms is unwavering. He understands that the framers of the Constitution viewed private ownership of firearms as a safeguard of liberty.”