Look at all of you, thinking Rand Paul's presidential campaign was going nowhere but downward, in both polling support and money. Quite a feint that Rand Paul put out there, getting you all clucking. But the last laugh will be his. Because on Friday, Rand Paul trotted out a shock endorsement that threatens to upend the state of the race, the future of the country, the alignment of the planets, the mysteries of God.
Ron Paul has endorsed Rand Paul.
The two have some connections, so perhaps we should have seen this coming. Ron Paul served in Congress for years, just as Rand Paul has. Each are Republicans but gravitate towards libertarianism. Each has run for president. It's also the case that Rand Paul's mother is literally married to Ron Paul and they have a son and that son is Rand Paul. Still: pretty big endorsement here.
"Endorsement" is at least how Reason magazine is putting it, which is an effective framing job although perhaps not the most accurate. Ron Paul has always supported his son's campaign, because he is his son. He was there with Rand at the campaign launch, in a mostly silent role. His role has been nearly totally silent as the campaign has progressed, though. As the Washington Post's Dave Weigel writes, it's more accurate to call this Ron Paul's first pitch on Rand's behalf for donations, over four months into the process.
Here's a sampling of some of the slick #content within this email:
Rand is the ONLY one in the race who is standing up for your Liberty, across the board....he is our best hope to restore liberty, limited government and the Bill of Rights and finally end the big spending status quo in Washington, D.C....
Remember, truth is treason in the empire of lies. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to Washington, D.C. and their media mouthpieces.
Even where Rand and I do have minor differences of opinion, I would take Rand's position over any of his opponents' in both parties every time....
Rand must be heartened to have his father's full-throated public support and fundraising prowess at his back. But it's the best symbol yet of how Paul's political career has come full-circle: from niche politician to breakout GOP star and back to niche politician -- and one who has little hope of growing his support for the nomination much further.
Leading up to the presidential cycle, much of the chatter about Rand Paul surrounded how he would utilize his "wild card" father, if at all. It was Ron Paul's noisy base of supporters who raised him an awful lot of money for his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and who boosted Rand Paul to his surprising Senate primary victory in 2010. As Rand's ambitions went higher though -- he wanted to run for president with a chance to win, and not as a niche candidate in the style of his father -- he had to move towards the party mainstream without abandoning his libertarian base.
That didn't work very well. The rise of ISIS closed off whatever interest Republicans might have had in a slightly less military interventionist foreign policy. Rand sensed the winds changing and has tried several times to appease the party's hawks, who do not and will not ever trust him, in the meantime turning some of his libertarian base against them. He has tried to walk the narrow line between mainstream acceptability and libertarian fire and failed.
And now he doesn't have much money, or anything to lose, so he might as well trot out his father despite all the risks that entails.
It will be something when Rand Paul fares much, much worse in the early states this time than his father did in the early states in 2012. That's not the way it was supposed to be.