Sen. Rand Paul had to know his endorsement of Mitt Romney would carry little weight with supporters of his father’s Presidential campaign, especially those of a more libertarian mindset or those with no long-standing loyalties to the GOP . Then again maybe that’s the idea.
Not that Rand wouldn’t eventually endorse the GOP nominee whoever it was as a party member and sitting U.S. Senator. What surprised many Paulities was how soon and how enthusiastic he was about it and he how plans actively campaign for Romney in the fall. In so doing he will be on the record supporting the foreign policy platform of the Romney campaign which is diametrically opposed to the things his father beliefs in and ran his campaign’s on. Indeed, some may wonder if Ron Paul so far can’t bring himself to make such an endorsement, then why is Rand so eager?
Obviously a lot of this has to do with Rand’s ambitions for 2016. He wants to be seen as a party man, of mainstreaming the Paul movement inside the party. Indeed the charge is out there that the Paul 2012 campaign had a tactical alliance with the Romney campaign to refrain from attacking each other, an insurance policy which guranteed even if Paul lost he would not be shut out of the GOP convention in 2012 unlike 2008 and his supporters would find a place inside the party. Recent events in Louisiana and Massachusetts lends some weight to these theories.
But this process was happening already and didn’t require kow-towing to the Romney campaign. Paul supporters have already taken over several state parties this election cycle and their influence has grown steadily in five years. The fact many of these supporters are under the age of 45 means inevitably the future of the GOP belongs to the movement centered around Paul regardless what happens in 2012 or even 2016 for that matter. There’s no need to do anything more for Romney outside of a profunctionary endorsement and there’s certainly nothing Romney would be willing to offer (Rand will not be the Vice-Presidential nominee), short of jettisoning his entire foreign policy advisory staff and promising that neither John Bolton or Joe Lieberman will ever be in a Romney cabinet to make the endorsement a meaningful one for Ron Paul’s supporters to move into Romney’s camp enthusiastically. He can’t deliver, so why pay? Being a vice-presidential nominee on a losing ticket would badly damage Rand’s chances in 2016 and the brutal reality is a Romney victory would be a disaster for Paul supporters as the first thing the Romney and the RNC will do is to regain control over GOP state parties they’ve lost to the Paulites.
Ultimately this endorsement has everything to do with Rand and how he perceives his political future. And it’s my guess he and those around him who helped him win his Senate campaign in 2010 (like Jesse Benton for example, Rona Paul’s son-in-law and 2012 campaign manager) sees that future without the grassroots supporters which basically created the Paul movement from scratch back in 2007. After all, his Senate campaign was not exactly a grassroots operation. It was professionally run outfit with help from GOP operatives, many of whom now work for Romney. They can easily work for Rand four years from now. One gets the sense Rand and his inner-team wish to rid themselves of people they can’t control, that they believe embarrass them and whom they view as fanatics, unwilling to play the political game.
That’s fine, Rand can do what he wishes. He can even mow Mitt’s lawn if he thinks it will make him more popular with the in-crowd. But he should remember a lot of ordinary people willingly sacrificed their money and their time to create a movement without which Rand would not be where he is today. If he thinks he’s beyond such supporters then he can find someone else to make phone calls for him. Of course, they have robots now which do those sort of things don’t they?