Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kelley Paul is Ready

By Lisa Belkin

Kelley Ashby Paul was dressed for the weather as she trudged through the last storm of the Washington, D.C., winter to meet a reporter. Fuzzy woolen hat, complete with earflaps and pompom, on her head. Knee-high waterproof boots with faux fur trim on her feet. Puffy white parka zipped in between.

Her husband, Rand, meanwhile, was home, still dry and warm, in the couple’s tiny Capitol Hill apartment. The junior senator from Kentucky and presumed presidential candidate had nowhere to be on this weekday morning because the federal government, in fact the entire city, was shut down. (No, not by the Tea Party; by the snow.) That Kelley was out in the storm made metaphorical sense, because she isn’t really “of” D.C., and unlike Rand, she doesn’t officially work for the government.

Home, for her, is still Bowling Green, Ky., where she was raising her three sons as a stay-at-home wife of a small-town ophthalmologist in the 20 years before Rand ran for office. Where she lived full-time until this year, when she finally took the next step in the transformation and enrolled her youngest in a D.C. private school. Now her tight circle of hometown friends takes care of her house — dealing, for instance, with the time a bird got inside and “pooped all over the bathroom” and picking her up at the airport when she manages to fly back once a month or so.

Politics, like the clergy and the military, is one of the few fields where it’s assumed that the spouse — particularly the wife — will take on part of the job. It is an anachronism from a time when all wives were defined by the work of their husbands, and it’s an increasingly tough role to navigate now that the political spotlight is brighter and the political pace is faster.

The cycle from nobody to power player is shorter now — convention keynoter to president, Bowling Green doctor to presumed presidential candidate — and the ups and downs are sharper. So while it is Rand Paul’s hat that everyone expects will be thrown into the ring next month, it’s also Kelley Paul’s, earflaps, pompoms and all.

Already, she says, “Rand wears a baseball hat when we go out” if he wants some privacy, but soon, she knows, “that won’t work anymore. It’s been something that has taken getting used to."

“Everyone thinks this is something I know how to do, but we’re very new to politics,” Kelley says. “I am proud of him, and I think he could win, but I’m also OK with the kind of life I had four years ago.”

Settling into a booth and ordering scrambled eggs and bacon on this snowy morning, Kelley isn’t recognized, but she is noticed. Now 51, she has always been a presence, this striking blonde with penetrating blue eyes. A woman so confident that she cheerfully agrees to pose outside in the snowstorm, working the camera like an experienced model, without a moment of worry about looking disheveled. “A cheerleader type,” one of her best friends from college says, “a real sorority girl.”

Sure, it’s wrong to describe women in political profiles in ways you would never describe men, but as she herself points out, most profiles of her husband make quick mention of his unruly curly hair and his boyish looks. (Which is why the baseball hat trick works, she says — because people recognize him by that hair.)

Read the rest here.


  1. Damn, she needs to eat something.

  2. Randy's wife, huh? And this would be interesting because..........?

    1. You need to ask the Rand Paul camp. They are the ones who arranged this profile for a week before Rand's presidential run announcement.

    2. I won't bother to ask. It was one of them rhetorical questions.