Politics

A perfect storm: Rand Paul says now’s the time to take it to the GOP establishment in Kentucky

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

You’d think if your dad has been in Congress for more than 10 years and ran for president a couple times — even raising millions of dollars during the 2008 presidential election — that you would rely on his advice daily to run an effective campaign the first time your name is on a ballot.

That’s not the case for Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, whose father is Texas Rep. Ron Paul and who is expected to strike a major blow against the GOP establishment candidate in Kentucky’s Senate primary on Tuesday.

“You know, I haven’t talked to him in a little while,” Paul, a Kentucky eye doctor, said of his father during an interview Wednesday with The Daily Caller. “We usually do talk every couple of weeks — more about issues or family business, policy but not really the specifics of the campaign.”

Paul — a political newcomer, if you discount his involvement in his father’s campaign and anti-tax groups — is running in a primary against Trey Grayson, the hand-picked candidate of his state’s senior senator and Republican leader in the Senate. Grayson is establishment to the point of being endorsed by Dick Cheney.

And to Paul, that’s the perfect recipe for the candidacy of someone with libertarian-leanings who hates bailouts, opposes the Iraq war and is endeared by conservative grassroots activists across the country looking to score a win against the establishment.

“It’s the perfect storm, it’s the perfect time to be the representative of the Tea Party,” says Paul. “And it’s the time, it’s absolutely the time to be a small government, limited government Republican.”

Paul claims to have been a Tea Partier before CNBC’s Rick Santelli’s rant on live television gave birth to the Tea Parties we know today. “The Tea Party has been a huge impact on this race, and I give a lot of credit to the Tea Party for our momentum and our double-digit lead.”

Indicative of Paul’s grassroots appeal, the small town physician who is married with three boys was endorsed by Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint. He was also endorsed by Sen. Jim Bunning, who is vacating the seat Paul is running for.

Another endorsement that made big news in the race was that of Dr. James Dobson, who first threw his support behind Grayson and then revoked it when the conservative leader said he was fed bad information that Paul was not pro-life. After withdrawing his support from Grayson, Dobson endorsed Paul.

Asked by The Daily Caller, Paul refused to say who he thinks lied to Dobson over his views on abortion. “People ask me that all the time,” Paul said. “And I tell people that — you know the old joke — ‘If I tell you, I’d have to kill you’. That’s kinda where it goes there.”

“I’m gonna let Dr. Dobson talk about it,” he continued. “It was a private conservation he had.”

Paul said he supports a platform of term limits, a balanced budget amendment and a waiting period before Congress votes on bills. “I propose one day for every 20 pages — that usually gets a few chuckles in the audience — but I think people are in favor of it.”

“I think that Congress should not pass laws they don’t make applicable to themselves,” he said. “And then I also think Congress should not pass laws without pointing out where they get the power or authority from the constitution.”

Asked to name a senator that closely resembles the style of lawmaker he envisions becoming, Paul first said what he wouldn’t be: “I think Republicans that voted for the bank bailout did a grave injustice to our party and to the platform.”

“But there were several who voted against the bailout, Senator Bunning was one who did, Senator DeMint was one of those who did. So I tend to align more with people who don’t understand government having a role in the ownership of private business.”

Paul says he doesn’t think he’ll have a hard time bringing the so-called establishment GOPers he’s run against into his camp after the primary if he wins Tuesday. And there’s no bad blood, he said, between him and the Republican leader, and perhaps his future fellow Kentucky senator, Mitch McConnell, who is a Grayson supporter.

“I think that as a minority leader, he’s done a good job of uniting Republicans against a lot of bad stuff the Democrats have tried to push through. So I think there are many areas we agree on,” Paul said. “I mean right now, it’s hard to get too excited, because he’s working hard to try to keep me from winning the primary, but I think after the primary, I’m a big enough person that we can work together.” Paul said McConnell has called for “a unity rally” on the Saturday after the election for the election’s victor.

Paul — who said his parents, along with his brothers and sisters will be in Kentucky Tuesday night for what they hope will be a victory celebration —said his campaign got word Tuesday morning of another poll showing him 15 points ahead of Grayson. “We feel great. We couldn’t feel better about this.”

The first-time candidate says he sees Kentucky following a trend of the “outsider versus the establishment.” In Florida, he argued, “the establishment thought it would be easier to elect a moderate, so they picked Crist even though he was buddying up to Obama on the stimulus package. And it didn’t work. They picked Bennett out in Utah and it didn’t work,” he continued.

“They picked my opponent, and I don’t think it’s gonna work here in Kentucky either.”

E-mail Alex Pappas and follow him on Twitter