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For such an interesting candidate, Sen. Rand Paul formally announced his bid for the presidency in the most banal of ways.

Speaking before a cheering crowd at a Louisville, Kentucky hotel, the Republican senator spoke of himself as an outsider who can “beat the Washington machine.” Feel free to yawn here.

After that, Paul followed with the equally cliche-riddled declaration, “I have a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our country back.” The son of a congressman who presently serves in the U.S. Senate professes to take the country back from the very Washington machine in which he currently maintains a cushy position. We’ve heard this in previous elections. We’ll hear it in future ones. The only problem is that despite his quite ordinary way of launching his campaign, Rand Paul is actually a peculiar candidate for president.

Should he become the nominee – highly unlikely at this point, but bear with me – we’d have the prospect of a presidential election in which the GOP presidential nominee would be far less hawkish in terms of foreign policy than his likely opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We’d also have a presidential race in which the GOP presidential nominee genuinely wants to secure a higher portion of the Black vote. Rand Paul has spoken candidly about police brutality and has introduced legislation alongside New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker that would end the disparate federal drug sentencing laws.

Rand Paul has certainly made controversial comments about the Voting Rights Act in the past, but since then, he’s routinely spoken before Black audiences to make an effort to connect. Even if I don’t align with the majority of his political viewpoints, I’m intrigued. And also encouraged given that none of the other potential GOP candidates have bothered with Black voters or will bother in the looming election.

So despite his boring introduction, Rand Paul remains a more intriguing candidate than many of his peers in either party. However, unlike his father, former congressman Ron Paul, Rand Paul has accepted the notion that it’s better to brand yourself a political outlier than to simply be one. In some respects, that makes sense.

Rand Paul’s father is a libertarian in a majorly purist form and is not without controversy — just skim through any write-up about his old newsletters filled with racist sentiments. Still, for all his attempts to appear as normal and less “kooky” than the competition within the prospective GOP presidential field, Rand Paul surrounds himself with crazy.

At his rally on Tuesday, Paul had a local Black pastor named Jerry Stephenson speak. After the rally, Stephenson made some controversial comments about President Obama. Buzzfeed reports that after some prodding from reporters, Stephenson said, “In five years we’ll find out what [Obama’s] real religion is.” He went on to add, “I think the evidence of his actions are not friendly toward Christians. Once he’s out, he will ‘evolve’ like he did on gay marriage. I just believe that’s what he will do.”

To the Paul campaign, Latino and Black churchgoers are voters that can be poached from the Democrats in the general election. Maybe, but as far as Black voters go, questioning the religion of the first Black president – an exhausting exercise as illustrated by the entire Obama administration thus far – is probably not going to entice a bunch of Black people to abandon the Democratic shift.

Then there is the issue of the GOP base. In a segment on Monday’s edition of Fox & Friends, guest Dallas Woodhouse claimed, “Rand Paul’s got to prove that he will nuke a Muslim country if we have to. I’m not saying we should. But I’m saying we will do that if it takes saving America and that there’s no doubt that he will do what it takes to protect America.”

Woodhouse may be speaking for himself in this instance, but the idea that Paul is not accepting of America’s role as interventionist is a common belief among the sort of GOP voters who vote heavily in the primaries. He will be portrayed as weak on foreign policy, which is why his language noticeably changed at the rally.

But if he becomes hawkish, how does that differentiate him from the rest of the field? Just like if he gives into portraying President Obama as “other,” how does he attract more Black voters than the usual GOP presidential nominee? And if he becomes a disputative candidate who plays into caricatures of the nation’s first Black president who had a significant portion of the young vote in each of his wins, how does he follow Obama’s lead as the candidate of the youth as promised?

Rand Paul may have formally announced on Tuesday, but he’s been running for president for quite some time now. Sooner or later, he’s going to have to figure out who he wants to be as a candidate. Himself or a Forever 21 version of some design we’ve already seen.

Rand Paul Wants To Be A Serious Candidate, But Crazy Surrounds Him was originally published on

2 thoughts on “Rand Paul Wants To Be A Serious Candidate, But Crazy Surrounds Him

  1. Just as Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney have said, “they want their Country back.” But wait, just when was their Country taken away from them and who has it?

    How is Rand peculiar? He is just like any other politician and will say anything and everything to receive the nomination. (One of the main reasons I cannot run for political office.)

    I have not been watching how the REDEEM Act has been coming along but I can only imagine that with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, it is not doing so well. I know I sound negative but cannot help myself when it comes to the Grand Old Party. Nonetheless, the idea seems ideal since the majority of our prison systems are filled with minorities.

    For the avid political watcher and voter, Rand Paul is hardly intriguing.

    For me, there is absolutely nothing Rand Paul can do to appear less “kooky.” As long as he is one of “them,” I will always see him as “kooky” and “crazy.” I mean, you would have to be crazy to go on TRMS and speak against Civil Rights and then immediately afterwards, attend a Black conference and talk about Black history. I do not know if I should deem him kooky-crazy or just a person with a lot of chutzpah.

    That is so nice that Rand is able to attract a Black person. How nicey nice. However, if that Black preacher is not able to garner more Black votes, then Rand should not expect much. No matter, how many times the TJMS has him on their show, I doubt he will receive many Black supporters.

    Weak on foreign policy? He has been all over the place on foreign policy. Now I know it is okay to change one’s mind, but he must at least pretend to be consistent or he will be labeled a flip flopper. Again, it is okay to change one’s mind but to get the attention of serious and avid Democrat voters he must know something about it and give reason as to why he changed his mind.

    Between John McCain and Barack Obama and then Mitt Romeny and Barack Obama, I believe the first-time college voters were able to decipher through the shenanigans who was the better candidate. Now that Rand has thrown his hate in, I believe they will be able to do so again. All the candidates have to do is just open their mouths and start talking.

    Just like most people, we can expect Rand Paul to evolve and change his mind about certain issues, but before he throws his hat in the ring, he should at least have an idea what he stands for.

  2. Chuck on said:

    Rand, change your name and distance yourself from your father.
    Then don’t say anything, tell everyone you will decide your agenda after you are elected then people won’t be able to pin you down to any one comment you make. Refuse interviews because always seem to go bad for you. Also “I’m not them” is not a viable campaign agenda.

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