Monday, October 5, 2015

When Will Rand Stand Down?

Rand Paul may be stuck in the presidential race much longer than it is going to do him any good. Another Rand tactical blunder may keep him in the race until March, which could make him quite the laughingstock. Howard Fineman explains:
This past week, his campaign's slow leak threatened to turn into a full blowout.

Nationally, Paul's poll numbers have sunk so low that he is in danger of not making the cut for the CNBC presidential debate on Oct. 28. The minimum is 3 percent, which Paul makes only if the network adheres to its promise to "round up" the numbers for those with at least 2.5 percent. (Paul is currently at 2.3 percent or 2.8, depending on which poll aggregator you use.) And of course he can't afford to lose ground in any other new poll.

The money situation is just as dicey. A super PAC that had been backing Paul bailed on him last week, and his own campaign reported that he had collected only $2.5 million in the third quarter of this year -- about two-thirds less than the previous quarter and about one-tenth of what Carson took in...

The reasons for the decline of the Paul campaign over the last year are adding up. They include the advent  of more outrageous, unpredictable outsiders like real estate mogul Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson;...Paul's own departures from libertarian orthodoxy on spending and Senate procedure. His prickly, impatient persona, which made him so fascinating to reporters, hasn't played well on the campaign trail either...

Fran Wendelboe, a grassroots GOP organizer in [New Hampshir] who is unaffiliated with any candidate, was less positive about Paul.

"He's running on fumes up here," she said. "Trump is just blowing everything else out, and yes, he has a ground organization. A lot of would-be Rand people are with Trump. And if they aren't with Trump, they seem to be going in the direction of [Texas Sen.] Ted Cruz."

With the situation murky on the presidential campaign trail, Paul and his aides need to worry about their Old Kentucky Home. The current GOP nominee for governor, businessman Matt Bevin (who has feuded with Paul in the past), recently said that, while he wasn't endorsing anyone, his personal favorite for the GOP presidential nomination was Carson....

In the general election for his Senate seat in 2016, Paul is likely to face a strong Democratic opponent, probably State Auditor Adam Edelen, a personable, eloquent young pol with rural roots, ties to the University of Kentucky, and good support in metropolitan Louisville.

That might mean that the safer course for Paul would be to drop out of the presidential race and focus on the Senate. His ally of convenience, senior Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, would prefer it. As Senate leader, McConnell has a GOP majority to protect.

But having insisted on a separate presidential caucus next March, Paul can hardly stand down now, or anytime soon. He has to stay in the race until at least early spring.

"Rand is stuck," said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who didn't sound unhappy about that prospect.

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