Read The New Yorker’s 10,000-word profile of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
There is a lot in there about the potential 2016 Republican presidential contender. Below you will find nine interesting tidbits — not all of which should be construed as necessarily the most important elements of Ryan Lizza’s profile of Paul. But interesting nuggets nonetheless.
1.) Rand Paul is Ron Paul and Ron Paul is Rand Paul, according to the Paul matriarch.
Someone didn’t tell Rand Paul’s mother Carol that the new line is Rand Paul and Ron Paul are very different in their ideological orientations. In fact, she told the New Yorker that the two really don’t have any ideological differences at all. Ryan Lizza writes:
When I called the Paul family home, in Lake Jackson, Texas, Rand’s mother, Carol, cheerily answered. In an hour-long conversation, she explained that her husband didn’t like doing interviews about Rand. “Everybody that calls him wants to argue about their differences,” she said. “They don’t really have differences. They might have fractional differences about how to do things, but the press always want to make it into some kind of story that isn’t there.”
2.) Ron Paul was Rand Paul’s best man at his wedding.
3.) Rand Paul had a profound effect on at least one college friend.
In fact, the friend was so close to Rand, he even changed his last name to “Paul.” The New Yorker profile explains:
Rand’s friendship with George Paul was itself a small act of rebellion. George and Rand, who were both on the Baylor swim team and often spent six hours a day in the pool, became so close that, shortly after they arrived at Baylor, George legally changed his name from George Paul Schauerte to George Schauerte Paul.
4.) Rand Paul allegedly liked to debate churchgoers about religious fundamentalism.
At least so claims Paul’s buddy who changed his last name to Paul, though Paul’s camp denies the senator ever engaged in such activities. The New Yorker expounds:
In 1981, Rand entered Baylor University, a Baptist school in Waco, four hours from home. He immediately set himself apart. He contributed regularly to the school newspaper, the Lariat, drawing on Ayn Rand, Hayek, and Mises’s disciple Murray Rothbard. He studied biology (as his father had in college) and liked to challenge Waco’s fundamentalists, some of whom criticized the school for teaching evolution. George Paul, the son of a prominent Texas political fund-raiser, was Rand’s closest friend in college. George told me, “Many of the students had never left Texas and could be very limited in their outlooks.” He said that on Sundays he and Rand often visited different churches in an attempt “to observe how people practice their spirituality,” and frequently debated “individuals who very literally interpret the Bible, who question many scientific theories.” He added, “We would start digging by asking very direct questions, and people’s inability to answer them would fluster them and in some ways make it uncomfortable for them — and hopefully inspire one or two to think back on it later.” He recalled that he and Rand would debate anti-abortion extremists calling for the death penalty for doctors who performed abortions. (“Senator Paul denies that he went church to church seeking out people to argue with on religious matters,” Brian Darling, Paul’s communications director, said.)
5.) Rand Paul is super smart.
Rand Paul never graduated college. Despite this fairly large obstacle, he was accepted to one of the best medical schools in the country — Duke University’s — on the strength of his MCAT exam score.
7.) Rand Paul was very close to his father’s political movement.
He even took a leave of absence from his medical practice in 1996 to help engineer his father’s return to the House of Representatives.
8.) Rand Paul went by Randy until his wife Kelley told him that was not a name for an adult.
The New Yorker reports:
Not long after meeting Randy, Kelley told him that his name didn’t seem appropriate for an adult, and she renamed him. Carol Paul told me, “When he and Kelley met, he was a big boy. He could be Rand.”
9.) Rand Paul seemed to be winning respect from John McCain — that is, until Paul falsely accused him of meeting with ISIS terrorists.
Ryan Lizza talked talked to John McCain, who once called Paul a “wacko bird,” for his profile of Paul. But McCain seemed to have had a change of heart about Kentucky senator:
John McCain, one of Paul’s longtime critics, told me in August, “I see him evolving with experience, with travel, with hearings on the Foreign Relations Committee. I see him having a better grasp of many of the challenges we face than when he first got here. That doesn’t mean he is now a John McCain, but it certainly does mean that he has a greater appreciation and has been articulating that.”
McCain even told Lizza he could imagine supporting Paul if Paul won the Republican presidential primary in 2016:
McCain told me that, if Rand Paul is the Republican nominee for President in 2016, he will support him. “I’ve seen him grow and I’ve seen him mature and I’ve seen him become more centrist. I know that if he were President or a nominee I could influence him, particularly some of his views and positions on national security. He trusts me particularly on the military side of things, so I could easily work with him. It wouldn’t be a problem.”
But that was all before Paul accused McCain of meeting with ISIS fighters during a 2013 trip to Syria — a claim that has no basis in fact. When Lizza caught up to McCain again, he wasn’t quite as effusive about Paul:
Last week, I talked to John McCain again, and he was in a less generous mood. In an interview with the Daily Beast on September 17th, Rand Paul, apparently referring to a widely discredited Internet conspiracy theory, said that McCain had met with ISIS. “They had a doctored picture of me with Baghdadi!” McCain said, speaking of the leader of ISIS: “It is disappointing that he would pick up and legitimatize what was clearly information that was being pushed by people who are enemies of the United States.” McCain now dismissed Rand’s hawkish rhetoric aboutISIS: “He said we have to destroy ISIS, and yet he has not described a strategy in order to achieve that goal.”