The Best Reason to Take Rand Paul Seriously Has Nothing to Do With His Politics

Apr 10, 2015 · 255 comments
qualquan (Evanston)
Lets face it. The best reason for the news media to take this and other fringe candidates seriously is to sell more ads. Virtually everyone with a modicum of information knows they have vanishingly infinitesimal chance of being the president.
SF expat (London)
"procedural minutiae"
Jonathan (Lincoln)
Rand Paul's voting record is more conservative than any other GOP candidate in recent history, including his Dad's, including Ted Cruz's. It doesn't matter what contradictory stuff he says, what political machine he puts together, somebody with a voting record that extreme doesn't represent the views of the GOP or America and won't get the nomination.
Robert Cohen (Atlanta-Athens GA area)
I have to comment about RP running simultaneously as "conservative" and "libertarian" upon various issues.

It has seemingly been done successfully, and I'll try not to underestimate his chances of selling himself to enough voters to form the necessary coalition
of delegates/voters.

Because American voters are also simultaneously conservative and libertarian.

RP is novel & shrewd and, so while getting criticizing for seemingly political contradictions ad nauseam, he'll seemingly attract enough ideological contradictory people with his popularity & personality appeal.

That's apparently the plausible RP strategy to win.

I do not claim to originate these thoughts/ideas/analyses.
Lance Brofman (New York)
Almost all Republican and Democratic politicians agree that the Federal Government should spend about $4 trillion per year. Some want more for defense and some want more for non-defense, some want more for farm subsidies and some want more for food stamps. One wing of the Republican party has only one real issue - have the middle class pay an ever increasingly larger share of taxes and the rich a corresponding lower share. Since this is certainly against the interests of 97% of the voters, they can never have that be an issue in the elections. Thus, gay marriage, abortion, climate change etc. are issues whose main purpose is to distract attention from the tax issue.

"..Since 1969 there has been a tremendous shift in the tax burdens away from the rich on onto the middle class. Corporate income tax receipts, whose incidence falls entirely on the owners of corporations, were 4% of GDP then and are now less than 1%. During that same period, payroll tax rates as percent of GDP have increased dramatically. The overinvestment problem caused by the reduction in taxes on the wealthy is exacerbated by the increased tax burden on the middle class. While overinvestment creates more factories, housing and shopping centers; higher payroll taxes reduces the purchasing power of middle-class consumers. ..."
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
I doubt anyone is in favor of ALL parts of the Civil Rights Act. People forget that it was a product of political compromise, MLK Jr certainly did not support it lock, stock and barrel.
alxfloyd (Gloucester, MA)
We will come to know him as "Pander Paul"!
sdavidc9 (Cornwall)
The only ethics that libertarians want to enforce on everyone is the sanctity of contracts, except perhaps for contracts that are offers that cannot be refused. But imposing one group's set of moralities on others not in that group is just not libertarian. This rules out rules prohibiting abortions and refusing an equal legal status for same-sex couples as well as the minimum wage.

Libertarians bring up issues and principles other candidates prefer to fudge. Their arguments proceed from first principles rather than from discussions of minor changes in current procedures. They are not fit to govern because they deny realities that should not be according to libertarian principles, and because they think in terms of where we should be and rarely about how to safely get from here to there. But they are great for discussions, raising questions and perspectives that no one else will touch.
Mark Rcca (Washington DC)
I will vote for him in the Republican Primaries. If he loses there, then my second choice will be Mrs. Clinton - the least of remaining evils...
G.P. (Kingston, Ontario)
Ya, Himmler was pretty specific on details. Doesn't mean he was always right.
Jena (North Carolina)
I would take Rand Paul seriously if he was a Libertarian rather than a Conservative Republican wearing a wig.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
What is the point of him following the footsteps of his dad on the sidelines? Certainly as VP or President, few of his libertarian and NONE of his isolationist tendencies will have much chance of being codified into law, but he WILL be in a position to effectively call out the excesses of the Executive Branch: NSA, TSA, IRS, etc. I voted once for Obama because I believed HIS campaign rhetoric to that effect. As long as his Paw is alive I don't think Rand will be able to as conveniently and completely sell his soul. (Yes, SOME of that will happen, it has to in order to be elected at all).
MoreFreedom (Denver, CO)
Seems to me the best reason to take Paul seriously, is that he does better than any other GOP candidate in the polls against Hillary, such as the recent Quinnipac poll:

It's worth noting that both the GOP establishment and Democrats are running ads against him, because he's the only one who's serious about cutting government spending, limiting government, and attacking the crony capitalism of both parties.

The part of the Civil Rights Act with which Paul and many libertarians have issues, is the law forcing non-governmental entities to accommodate and serve people they find offensive, such as the laws forcing Muslim bakeries to provide cakes for gay weddings, black hotel owners to accommodate a KKK convention, or a gay printer to print up flyers for a Westborough Baptist Church protest. After all Jim Crow laws prohibited blacks from even opening businesses. The NYT implies it's a contradiction.
tpaine (NYC)
On the GOP side, the debates will determine the winner. On the Democrat side, you've got Hill and Bill. That's the BEST you can do? Really?
DR (New England)
Either of them could wipe the floor with Paul.
J. (Ohio)
A friend of mine met Mr. Paul at a private party a couple of years ago. As the conversation continued, it became abundantly clear that once Mr. Paul was off his talking points, he was not well informed and not particularly reasoned in his thinking. It is simply an anecdote, but one that keeps coming to my mind as he aims for the Presidency. I also continue to be troubled by his past, muddled remarks on the Civil Rights Act. See, for example, )
Justin Rogers (US)
Hmmm...You say that a friend said that Mr. Paul said....yeah, that's gonna' influence me.
fast&furious (the new world)
That Washington Post article is very damning.
Bob (Charlottesville, Va)
Rand Paul has bashed both parties for spending money we don't have. And he has criticized the Pentagon, and Republican pork , as well as the disastrous Party of Government's failed stimulus. Bush doubled the debt, and Obama's solution was to triple it. Enough is enough.
RT (Houston, TX)
Today he has. Tomorrow he'll be standing in front of a decommissioned battleship talking about padding the defense budget--the largest military budget in the world times 10. Bashing means nothing without solutions. Bashing without meaning it means he's campaigning out of both sides of his mouth.
robert s (marrakech)
Have you forgotten the financial trouble Obama inherited from bush?
Paul (Bellerose Terrace)
Paul has already backtracked on cutting defense spending, which would render him DOA in the Republicant Party. As David Byrne put it, "same as it ever was."
Sam Osborne (Iowa)
The young faces in the photos in Iowa newspapers covering Pauls entry into the race evidences the largely untapped electorate towards whom this campaign is directed and that constitutes the tidal wave victory of Paul's nomination and general election victory.

Paul strategists noticed what happened in the election and re-election of Obama; he carried 99.9% of the college towns. Old is sagely OK when it comes on the breath of a new message, as with Bernie Sanders, however old is stale when it carries the tiresome baggage of Hillary Clinton. Paul’s remarks on the stump reveal that he is using Hillary as the foul breath from which youth will draw away in disgust. And this dissing of Hillary produces a byproduct of doing the same to the tired Bush name without speaking endless ill of a fellow Republican.

The direction the wind is blowing in this election season is not going to become readily apparent to stale Democrats set in their ways that pretend a future in over-the-hill unacceptable Hillary. Paul’s strategy is contrastingly quite brilliant when compared to stale Democrat group-thunk unable to notice that in the eyes of awakening youth Clinton is an irrelevant old lady---and the lady for them might as well be 35-year-old Chelsea. If this generation-in-the-making even knows that name it comes from being over at grandpa’s old place years ago when they were little and gramps would endlessly play on a boom box some woman named Judy Collins singing “Chelsea Morning.”
RT (Houston, TX)
Sam needs a thesaurus as badly as Rand Paul needs a compass to see which direction he's wavering in on a particular day.
RCT (New York, N.Y.)
Because I view the Republican's nomination of a young, white male candidate who appeals to twenty-somethings as the greatest (and probably only) barrier to Hillary Clinton's election, I asked my 26 year-old son, who is independent and a clear thinker, and highly critical of authority (what person his age is not?) what he thought of Rand Paul.

His answer was "He's a very smart, interesting guy, but in no way qualified to be President." By not qualified, my son meant that Paul's ideas were not fact-based, and his policies unsuited for a 21st-century, global economy.

I hope that other young voters follow my son's lead, because Clinton's chief problem is going to be appealing to that young cohort. As for the middle-aged working people who, hearing Paul say things like "We've come to take back our country," truly believe that the reason that they are underpaid, unemployed, undereducated and overworked is that someone has taken their away their country (African-Americans? Illegals? Elites? Poltergeist? Where did they put it -- British Columbia?) all that one can do is feel sorry for their continued victimization by the wealthy and politically ambitious and fear that their pitiful ignorance will bury us all.
Citixen (NYC)
Well put. You're son is a smart guy. I would only say that Paul can 'sound' smart, but he doesn't do what most smart people do: periodically check his presumptions against metrics that aren't solipsistically predisposed to confirm his beliefs. Or have himself put into positions where his presumptions need to be seriously defended. In other words, he doesn't test himself and his beliefs against history or other smart people. He presumes that he is first in having his thoughts. Therefore, as being seemingly untested they remain perfectly valid in his own mind. And to an audience that too often doesn't do much better, he then sounds like a 'smart person' without really knowing what he's talking about or understanding the consequences of what he's talking about. Oh, and then there's the small issue of his history of plagiarizing many of those 'thoughts' and calling it something all public speakers 'do'.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
What politician does?
Jonathan Baker (NYC)
Jim Rutenberg's article on Rand Paul is all about the political horserace, not about the quality of the horses. This is what excites the media industry - stoking up heat in the fire while nothing of substance is being cooked.

We have been treated to a series of showcase articles on Jeb Bush during the past couple of months, and now Rand Paul is getting additional spotlight. And the presidential debates will be as shallow as ever, so those of us who actually care about the issues and policies that shape the future will get our information elsewhere.
JustinRogers (US)
RE: "Jim Rutenberg's article on Rand Paul is all about the political horserace, not about the quality of the horses"

Right. That's what the article is about. And the author makes that quite clear from the get-go. Why give him a hard time when he goes to the trouble of presenting a different, often over-looked part of the process? That's all he's talking about...process. Wow, people, give it a rest.
Jonathan Baker (NYC)
Re: "give it a rest". Sorry, but being brain-dead to the issues is not a disposition most of us choose to take. The article is without insight that is of practical value to voters.
hoconnor (richmond, va)
Rand Paul is in the process of self-destructing politically on the national stage.

You cannot say some of the outrageous and, frankly, peculiar things that Paul has said in the past, and then just deny that you said them. There are these things called tape recorders and video tape out there.

This is why Paul is blowing up media encounters all over the place -- nagging at Savannah Guthrie, walking out of interviews with The Guardian. The guy probably does have enough contact with reality to know that he's trapped by his own making.

The two serious Republicans the Democrats would love to run against the most are Rand Paul and a certain governor from a state next to New York who is not only a loud-mouth bully but seems to have a trail of suspicious financial and political dealings as part of his political DNA.

One should always be careful of what one wishes for, but still, the Democrats must be salivating over the chance to taking on one of those two.
RT (Houston, TX)
The sorry bench the GOP/TP is counting on is no better than the one that burst into flames before losing to Barack--in both his wins. The Dems are prepared to run--and win, against the entire batch of nincompoops.
JustinRogers (US)
Ms. Guthrie was setting forth a multi-faceted pre-determined loaded question built on an assumption that Mr. Paul didn't agree with. Loaded questions are logical fallacies and you can't have a discussion without qualifying them. Otherwise you end up having to answer the "are you still beating your wife" question all day. Paul just wasn't following the script and that has apparently ruffled some feathers.
Ceadan (New Jersey)
I'd say Rand Paul's chances for the Republican nomination are fairly good so long as he can rely on puff pieces like this one. Paul's hopes rest on the media's continuing narrow focus on the "horse race" aspects of the campaign and its obscuring the catastrophic consequences that his extremist corporate agenda would have for most of the country.
JustinRogers (US)
Puff piece? I didn't find it particularly sympathetic or hostile.
India (Midwest)
Don't do what I did when I voted for him for US Senator, that is think of him as a fringe nut job whom no one would take seriously and who could do no harm. I deeply regret that vote. NEVER underestimate this man.
abie normal (san marino)
That's what they said of Ronald Reagan.
HopeChangeInAZ (Phoenix, AZ)
I don't believe there is a place in the Republican party for Rand Paul in the world of politics we are living in least not a big enough place to ever see the inside of the WH except as a visitor. He should start his own third party, which is where he and his dad really belong...oh and take your followers with you too! The Republican party will be the better for it and so will Rand Paul.
John LeBaron (MA)
It will be be fascinating to see how an effective campaign team will deal with a thoroughly unlikable candidate. What is it about opthamologists in politics?
Todd Roberson (Indiana)
Yes it will be fascinating to see how Hillary's team deals with running an unlike able candidate.
Mr. Robin P Little (Conway, SC)

We are 20 months away from electing a new President of the United States of America. In theory, anything could happen. In real terms, only two things are going to happen: a) Hillary Clinton is going to announce she is running for the office of the President, and b) Jeb Bush is going to announce that he is running for the office of the President. The rest of it is political journalists turning out noisy copy in an attempt to earning a living, and get as big an audience for what they write as they possibly can.

The best reason to completely ignore Rand Paul as a candidate for the office of the President has exactly to do with his fake-libertarian politics. Mr. Ruttenberg purposely misdirects his readers in the title, then says because Rand's team is seriously looking at the mechanics of getting elected, they can overcome his political-views disadvantage, not to mention his personality-problems disadvantages.

No. they can't. Every serious political candidates' team looks at the mechanics of getting elected. This is how Barack Obama triumphed twice, in 2008, and 2012. His teams put everybody on alert that the ground game had changed, and they knew how it was best played. If Obama had not been presented as an engaging, moderate Democrat, he never would have been elected. Rand Paul has no hope of being presented as an engaging, moderate Republican because everybody already knows he isn't one. This is the end of his story. He is not going to be President.
Take Rand Paul seriously , then Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Christie. Huckabee and Marco Rubio have to taken seriously. John Kasich and Scott Walker are to be taken more seriously. This time the Republican party has crowded field but none of them is qualified. I think 2016 presidential race will be between Bush and Clinton all over again. They are not the best candidate but acceptable.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
Huh? All of those other than Trump are serious people and serious candidates.
PogoWasRight (Melbourne Florida)
The Republicans must have a "Weird Clone Factory" somewhere. How do they keep coming up with so-called candidates with lower qualifications than even George W. ????? It must be because they have so much practice and so many models to choose from........
abie normal (san marino)
Full Disclosure: I didn't bother reading the article.

Second Disclosure: why should I? Why should anyone?

It's a con. There are only two candidates for the presidency this time, as w every time: Wall Street Candidate Who Loves Israel Number One, and Wall Street Candidate Who Loves Israel Number Two.
Tom (Boston)
One of the biggest problems we face is the fact that we are largely a nation of apathetic voters. How could we see our country's electorate energized? A Rand Paul vs. Elizabeth Warren debate would surely spark interesting and passionate discussions. Unfortunately, it will never happen. We are circling our way down the drain of indifference as Clinton and Bush are simply anointed. Snore.
Richard Grayson (Brooklyn, NY)
Knowing the rules of how delegates are chosen is important. I was with the McGovern campaign in 1972, and because McGovern had been chair of the commission that changed the delegate selection process after the disastrous 1968 Chicago Democratic convention, our campaign was able to take advantage of opportunities that the establishment candidates like Humphrey or Muskie could not.

Similarly, in 1984 Gary Hart was unable to capitalize on his surprise win over Mondale in the New Hampshire primary because his campaign didn't understand the delegate selection process very well. I was in Florida, and that year, to boost a favorite-son candidate, Democratic primary voters had to vote for individual names of delegates, not the presidential candidates. (I was familiar with that because in 1972, in New York, presidential primaries had people vote for delegates, not the candidates themselves.)

Hart's campaign basically hadn't bothered to recruit people to run for delegates supporting him in Florida, and his campaign scrambled to recruit delegate candidates from those of us who were on the ballot running uncommitted (like me and my mother) or for Alan Cranston, who had dropped out of the race. Coming right after New Hampshire, his inevitable and self-inflicted loss in Florida was a big factor in dooming his campaign and giving the nomination to Mondale, who ran a full slate of delegate candidates in every congressional district (in a few they were unopposed).
R. D. Chew (mystic ct)
The so-called Libertarian philosophy is jejune, sophomoric, and Utopian. A philosophy for rich teenagers. However, as it does sort of logically cohere, this approach has a certain appeal to those on the Reactionary Right - and there are a lot of them - who fancy themselves as deep thinkers in possession of The Truth that eludes the less intellectually acute. Libertarian-sounding arguments appeal to that self-image.

As I am a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, Rand Paul is the guy I am rooting for. He would be the Barry Goldwater of the 21st century. Were he to actually become the nominee, which is a a 100-1 shot, campaign organization notwithstanding, he would be exposed as un-presidential in character and shallow in understanding. A slam dunk for Hillary.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
You have a problem with Barry Goldwater?!
Jeremy Ken (Boynton Beach Fl)
I won't vote for Paul, even though he seems attractive for the same reason I won't vote for Cruz or Rubio They were all elected to so a job for their constituents, yet they are all out running around the country to be President. Yet they are taking their Senators salary Nobody ever seems upset about this If you had a salaried job and were discovered to be doing something else, you would be fired Nice work if you can get it They are hypocrites and nobody seems to call them on this. I also will not vote for Hill or Jeb Don't know what I'm going to do
AB (Maryland)
Rand Paul is very good at running away from Dreamers and reporters. He's very good at whining and talking over people asking him important questions. Why, again, is he qualified to the president, NYT?
JustinRogers (US)
He hasn't run away from anyone. In both the Dreamer case and Guardian case, he walked away because he didn't have time for anymore questions; he had other interviews to get to. And in the Guardian case, it was CNN that turned out the lights, not Paul's staff. Total non-story that's going to back-fire on the media.
DSS (Ottawa)
There is no reason to take Rand Paul seriously. He is just a side show in the circus we call the "primary season".
RT (Houston, TX)
It's ludicrous to even discuss Paul's grasp of electoral math when he can't go a day without tripping up his own message. He's a joke candidate. I give it a month.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
Senator Obama couldn't even keep track of the number of States .. so I don't think a grasp of math will be an obstacle on the path to the White House.
jefflz (san francisco)
How seriously can take a candidate who asks journalists not to bring up the plethora of absurd and uninformed comments he has made during the made years prior to announcing for the presidency? He has a twisted view of history and politics revealed by these statements that cannot be ignored. The man is not fit for public office..period!
JustinRogers (US)
You're making stuff up. He's never asked a journalist to "not bring up a comment". He's just not letting them railroad him with loaded questions based on false premises, and he's requiring they show a little courtesy by letting him answer one question at a time. I find it thoroughly refreshing.
Bramha (Jakarta)
Rand Paul will not win the Republican presidential nomination. period.
sdrommel (south dakota)
I too wish him luck. Not sure how far he'll get though.
Steve Hunter (Seattle)
Paul's "views" are becoming less novel everyday. He now wants to increase the military budget by 16%. He is a prickly man who will not answer straight questions from reporters and expresses anger that they even dared to ask him and in fact tells them how to ask the question. This arrogant little man has accomplished nothing in the US Senate, but I guess that I shouldn't hold that against him as none of his fellow Republicans have either.
JustinRogers (US)
Show me a straight question that he hasn't answered.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
We like him because we want our representatives to STOP accomplishing things for us in the US Senate. Just take one year off, for Pete's sake, so we can start catching up on our reading of what they've accomplished up to this point.
Todd Roberson (Indiana)
His lack of accomplishment in the Senate is of course a stark contrast to the rich senatorial contributions of Obama and HRC!
C Bruckman (Brooklyn)
I’ve long held to the idea that it were best to vote for one of the main party candidates, simply because that’s where the race really was. But as an independent, liberal leaning but religiously conservative, voter, I’ve often been left with the feeling that I voted for “the lesser of two evils,” and that’s not a good place to be. Back in 2012, I voted for Obama—disappointed with his performance and more as an anti-Romney vote. But the day of the election, trying to convince a friend to vote, we took a very detailed and nuanced survey of issues and both came out as having the best match with Jill Stein from the Green Party. Too late; I’d already voted. But I began thinking that in the next election, I’d abandon my long-standing practice and vote for the candidate who best represented my views and values. How else will we ever break from the two-party machine?—a machine that will probably give us a Clinton and a Bush in the next election. The one good thing that might come of that, is more people like me might begin to take a look at third party and independent candidates and maybe, for once, the best man (or woman) will win.
Citixen (NYC)
Lord knows, I'd love it if this country was represented with more than 2 political parties, but we don't. So, personally, I consider it a fool's errand to vote for a 'third' party until enough states loosen up the rules to allow for a true 3+ electoral system, which would start with proportional representation instead of winner-takes-all. Right now the process is rigged to favor the Dem/Repub tickets even if the ballot contains more than 2 parties. Which means 3rd party candidates function as spoilers for one side or the other. Yes, that does mean I vote defensively a lot. But that doesn't mean my vote doesn't count. It just reflects the reality we operate in.

Obama was the first candidate in years that I was proud to cast a vote for. Why? Not just his proposals (which I always took with a grain of salt, given the state of the GOtP) but largely because he was the first candidate for president that didn't insult my intelligence. By speaking in coherent sentences and paragraphs, it became obvious that he was head and shoulders above the average politician in his analysis, problem-solving, and communication skills. And in my book, that counts for a lot. The fact that he'd achieved so much while coming from a challenging background made up for the rest.

So, the question becomes: Does your spoiler-vote help or hurt your second-best choice? Once you've answered that satisfactorily, THEN cast your vote accordingly.
fast&furious (the new world)
Idealistic? Rand Paul?

What's idealistic about Rand Paul - who spoke at the 144th NRA convention this week - - in support of unlimited access to firearms? Isn't Rand Paul just a shill for gun manufacturers - death merchants who are profiteering off the fear, misery and death of our citizens? What's idealistic about that? Pimping himself out to support more money for weapons dealers? What possible good do those people do for anyone but themselves while endangering the rest of us?

All of those guys - every GOP contender - except Chris Christie - were at the beck and call of odious Wayne LaPierre,
NRA frontman who has made gruesomely insensitive comments about the deaths of young children killed in gun massacres. The centerpiece of LaPierre's NRA speech was a rant against Hillary Clinton claiming her election will "bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair." LaPierre is the worst kind of bottom-feeder in our culture - mean, divisive, and supporting a culture of violence and death for profit.

Anybody who shows up to shill for LaPierre and the NRA isn't fit to be president. It was gutless for Rand Paul to speak at the NRA. Do most physicians support unlimited gun ownership? Paul is a cynical, cold-eyed pol who will do anything to get elected.

He's just getting revved up.
Jack Archer (Pleasant Hill, CA)
I wish Rand Paul all the luck in the world in his quest for the Republican nomination. He won't get it, however good his team may be, which is too bad. If he did, it would mean the end of the Republican Party as a serious national party for some time. It would also be highly entertaining, as Paul self-destructed as a presidential candidate. Looks like he's on his way already to self-destruct and won't even make to the convention.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
I don't know if you were around in 1980, or old enough to have an interest in politics, but they said precisely this same thing about Ronald Reagan.
LuckyDog (NYC)
If Paul had a brother who would be the governor of a swing state, and could hide valid ballots to ensure that he "wins" that state in the election, then we would be in big trouble and a repeat of the false "winner" of the 2000 election would be in store for us. But we are not complacent, silent fools anymore, we will stand up and demand that nobody is handed the presidency on a platter because of fraud. Social media means that we the people can monitor election results, and we will. Never, never again will the presidency be left up to the corrupt Supreme Court to decide, and never, never again will we allow any governor to put ballots in trucks and run them all over the highways to make sure that they are hidden and not counted. Never again. Here that, Paul, Walker, Koch brothers, the entire Bush clan, Rubio, and all those who have already made their plans based on buying the Oval Office?
Ian stuart (Frederick MD)
let's also give Ralph Nader credit for the Florida debacle. If he had thrown his support to Gore instead of allowing his (huge) ego to keep him in the race there would not have been a deadlock; just think, no wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, no housing collapse (Greenspan wouldn't have been there to refuse to supervise the financial system), and no Robert's Supreme Court (and therefore rational limits on political donation).
tpaine (NYC)
Had Gore won his "home state" of Tennessee, Florida wouldn't have been necessary. Fortunately for America, they knew him better than most and voted AGAINST him.
numb9rs (New Jersey)
Rand Paul is the joker card in the Republican primaries. His tactics are counter to the agenda of the Establishment and Tea Party groups. He's also not afraid to work with Democrats; for some Republicans this is a weakness but he turns it into strength. And while the Democrat's primary is a little boring (it's Hillary duh!), the GOP primary is must-watch TV. Lets see if the joker's card gets called.
Burroughs (Western Lands)
Rand Paul's hypocrisy is of a quite different order from that of the ordinary politician. While most of the gang go with a general political orientation and then will say and do most anything to get elected (think Mitt Romney), Paul actually has a hard core of Libertarianism which he learned from his father. Anyone watching his interviews sees a man who instinctively wants to express (Ayn) Randian points about "liberty"--by which he means allowing the US to fall into a kind of howling Hobbesian wilderness where everyone is on his own
and government is essentially carried out by market forces--but then pulls back and mouths various qualifications and "of courses" that are meant to imply otherwise. The psychological effect of this cognitive dissonance is also pretty easy to spot. He's prickly but also smug and grandiose. He likes to pretend that he watches human affairs from a great height. If an interviewer points out his contradictions, he can become incensed. This is a very unbalanced guy.
Georg Witke (Orlando, FL)
Excellent analysis!
lvliberty (Costa Mesa, CA)
"On your own". As in individual liberty which means personal responsibility and accountability? As opposed to the Statist/collectivism which you obviously support
Brian (Utah)
For a minute I thought you were talking about Obama. Then I realized you were talking about his Libertarian counterpart. Hypocrites, people who will say anything to get elected, people that are smug and condescending, and people who feel above the people come from all walks of life. Obama is one of them.
Grossness54 (West Palm Beach, FL)
What's unusual, and interesting, about Rand Paul is that he dares to challenge the absurd idea that a candidate's position on issues - especially foreign policy matters - needs to be fixed and unchanging, in a world situation that's anything but that. The media types have two names for that - if they like a candidate, it's 'flexibility' but if they don't, it's 'flip-flopping'. Of course, when they interview a candidate they're simply asking the questions in their script. And the script will vary, of course, with their bosses' perception of the candidate.
The media's top executives, like all corporate types, value a candidate they can control or at least expect to go along with their aims. In the case of Rand Paul, they're probably not too sure just what they can expect, so they're suspicious and doubtful. Paul's well-known dislike of the prison-industrial complex won't make him many friends on Wall Street or in the police and corrections unions. His skepticism about nanny-state policies will give many a company reason to disdain and fear him, and that certainly goes for media types who've been aggressively pushing an advertising and fashion agenda designed to create a nation of folks frightened to death of anything that smacks of the least bit of laziness and - God forbid - flab. And as the author of 'Government Bullies', he'll come up against what Hillary Clinton's health-care team pushed: "Physicians must be fettered." - Judith Feder, an original advisor.
Enjoy the ride ...
Citixen (NYC)
"he dares to challenge the absurd idea that a candidate's position on issues - especially foreign policy matters - needs to be fixed and unchanging, in a world situation that's anything but that."

While that may once have been the case, Mr. Paul is doing a fine job 'fettering' himself these days in precisely the areas where he used to speak his mind. Not a good sign...for the quality of his mind, or his search for the nomination.

Imagine if he trusted voters enough to say what everybody already knows: What he's said in the past isn't going to help voters decide who to choose, so as a candidate he needs to come down on the issues. Then, if there are any contradictions, a more balanced and sure-footed candidate would have no trouble walking voters through his thought-process. That could've made him a dangerous candidate for the Dems.

But based on his performance so far, Rand Paul is certainly not that 'balanced and sure-footed' candidate. He seems a nervous and thin-skinned fellow.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
Excellent analysis
GTom (Florida)
If he really believes he is that good and can be nominated and win the presidency, then he must resign as a senator in Kentucky because it is what that state law requires him to do.
Jeremy Ken (Boynton Beach Fl)
Agreed I just posted that he, Cruz,and Rubio are hypocrites because they were elected to do a job, representing their states, and they are not doing that; they are running all over the country doing something else. And are taking their Senator'salary. They have disqualified themselves from me even considering giving them my vote
maryellen simcoe (baltimore md)
Kentucky has changed from a primary to a caucus system just so Paul wouldn't have to compete in a primary; which would have forced him to resign his Senate seat.
tpaine (NYC)
Apparently not or Kentucky Democrats would be howling - they're not.
Julee (NJ)
"Defeat the Washington machine, restore the American dream." Nice slogan from a windsock. Wait, isn't Washington firmly in the hands of Republicans in both Houses? So, would he want to take control away from the Republicans? In that case, yeah! In the more realistic scenario, the guy doesn't know anything about what he's talking.
Brian (Utah)
Perhaps that would make two presidents in a row that don't know what they are talking about.
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
"So, would he want to take control away from the Republicans? " Actually, he probably does. Unfortunately there are only two viable Parties.
k. francis (laupahoehoe, hawai'i)
mencken was right about the impossibility of underestimating the intelligence of the american people. they hired a TV actor to run their country and then renewed the contract.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
An actor who traded with an enemy to disgrace a sitting president to defeat him.
Des Johnson (Forest Hills)
So it's about process and gaming the primary system, not about what's good for America.
Citixen (NYC)
The best system private money can buy! Its basically a craps table, and we voters are the chips the politicians use to place their bets. We like to think we're in charge with our votes, but really we're just pawns; on the one hand allowing politicians to tell us where (what district) we're allowed to vote in, and on the other allowing donors to tell us who to vote for and how often they can tell us who to vote for.
FT (Minneapolis, MN)
Rand Paul is the eternal opposition. Give him a microphone and he will speak forever. Give him responsibilities and he wouldn't have a clue what to do.
Todd Roberson (Indiana)
Come to think of it he does remind me somewhat of President Obama. Thanks for pointing that out!
dave blan (LA)
paul has all the integrity of a used car salesman, less actually. He will say anything, based on the moment.
Tony J (Nyc)
They'll lose yet again simply because they do not care about the White House. Repubs are more concentrated on the 50s era club mentality of Congress in order to sustain their divisevness. Big money keeps these Mad Men afloat and K street only visits the big dome
NI (Westchester, NY)
Yes, there are many issues that seem extremely wholesome, middle ground.But if that ground keeps shifting at such an early stage of the Presidential contest, what can happen at the end of the contest?? He might be more dangerous than the flip-flopping Romney. Being an Ophthalmic Surgeon, if he can take a stand AGAINST VACCINATION (although back-tracked) is quite scary to say the least. He is a medical doctor. So obviously better than the college drop-out,smooth talking Scott Walker. But when was the last time he practiced as a surgeon? How does he manage to keep his medical license and all the mandatory requirements that go with it? I am a medical doctor. Just wondering!
maryellen simcoe (baltimore md)
He is self-certified, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his judgment.
Rob Johnson (Richmond, VA)
The fact most of the press is trashing him, and lying about him, means I am most likely a supporter of Rand Paul now. Hadn't been until this week but I am now.
Since people are now forced to vote for the least worst candidate, he is a serious contender.
Richard Head (Mill Valley Ca)
A small time guy with confusion about most things rather then any logical realistic ideas. He represents a small group of angry at the world people who are out to make a loy t of noise and create dissension not policy.
Rita (California)
The title of this article is particularly meaningful.

Here is a candidate who can't answer media questions about policy flip-flops and the article focuses on whom he has hired for his campaign and mastery of arcane party rules? And no mention of how he is doing in terms of the critical part of any campaign - who are the big donors that are backing him.

Maybe the NYTimes should have a new section of its newspaper: Political Theater because instead of discussion of the issues, we get discussion of the supporting cast, behind the scenes looks and cosmetics.
The Judge (Colorado)
If nominated, at least he'll have truth and honesty going for him. Some of his policy positions are questionable, but you can say that about any candidate.
pkenny (NJ)
Truth and honesty? The man hides from view his most contentious and unpopular positions on issues most important to many people supporting him: Social Security, Medicare, etc.
I call that dishonesty.
RDC (Davis,Ca)
He will only have "truth and honesty" going for him if you define his view of the moment as truth and honesty.
DSS (Ottawa)
Is he a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, or a Contrarian? Whatever he is, his bad ideas cancel out his good ideas making him not very serious as a candidate.
bink (denver)
Petite paul is a crank with delusions of grandeur without foundation. He is critical but brings not one accomplishment that would solve problems...
A plagiarizing flipflopping liar with an entitlement attitude 'that rules do not apply to me but to thee'! 'Shushing ' women is a little mans game.

A waste of time.
Robert Weller (Denver)
During the slow early campaign season Rand is going to get coverage that will fade when other candidates appear and the senator has to put up or shut up on Tea Party issues. Even if he somehow manages to get nominated he will be steamrollered by a public fed up with the GOP's stalling on every issue and favoring the rich. The check is in the mail and it will arrive.
Jaybird (Delco, PA)
...maybe I could take him seriously if he could pass the real ophthalmology boards first....
MDM (Akron, OH)
People need to understand that the backers of candidate's (corporate, wealthy) do not care about you, your family or even this country. What they do care about is a never ending "more" for them. This country is in big trouble.
Brock (Dallas)
Rand Paul likes to open his mouth and criticize. Problem is, he has done nothing to help solve problems and he never will. He just keeps on criticizing and fundraising as all conventional politicians do. He is worthless.
EuroAm (Ohio, USA)
The best reason to take Rand Paul seriously falls seriously short of what is necessary to actually take Rand Paul seriously...
H. Amberg (Tulsa)
With a campaign slogan of "Defeat the Washington machine, restore the American dream." I have no idea exactly who Paul is appealing to have overthrown. Currently the Republicans hold both Houses of Congress and the Republican appointed judges of the Supreme Court hold the majority. And so far those two branches of our federal government have done more damage to the country than any invading terrorist could have hoped to do. The wealthy have been empowered. or to use the term I most hate "emboldened while the poor and middle class have been burdened with being both the cause and cure for all our troubles.
david (ny)
Rand Paul's ideas are nuts but so were Ronald Reagan's.
Bush 41 called Reaganomics "voodoo" .
But Reagan got elected anyway.
We have to take screwy candidates seriously and refute their bogus programs with programs that address the concerns of people who support candidates with crazy ideas.
den (oly)
the more you listen the more self absorbed he sounds or actually is. Has few workable solution and is all too comfortable with his bumper sticker approach to issues. Nor do his shallow assertions turn into policies most really do want. We also think the grass is greener and pretty much that what he sells. Social conservative will hate his libertarian world, internationalists will fear his isolationist tendency, liberals will hate his budgets, the markets will worry about his losing control to the masses. Just another angry white guy who keeps telling you your life could be better. Empty really for all that capacity and all that privilege.
Ash (Phoenix)
If you substitute "he" wit) "she", you would be talking about Hillary.
Nikita (PA)
The problem with the premise of this article.....once one is actually considered a serious candidate the glare of the national spotlight is shined on you. paul could not handle even basic questions about his positions. This may endear him to the lunatic fringe and those not very serious college kids that really just want pot legalized.....but it makes him a decidedly not serious candidate. He is still a danger to the country since KY voters are foolish enough to put him in the United States Senate, but he will never get any closer to the White House than any other visitor.
TK (Taiwan)
Not completely sold on any candidate, but surely wont go with Hillary or Jeb, no matter what. No Rubio, Walker, or Cruz, either. I am a democratic leaning independent. I am uncomfortable with a few of his (Paul's) positions, but overall, he's got my vote. Will watch closer, of course, and someone else may emerge. But for now, I'm okay with Paul.
shend (NJ)
I cannot help but think that we are seeing Rand Paul beginning to abandon some of his Libertarian positions much like the 1990's John McCain did in order to appeal to the larger part of his Party. One of Paul's biggest if not biggest Libertarian positions is militarism and military spending run amok. Well, not so fast, as he appears to be dramatically softening on that score. People forget, but McCain in the 1990's established his bonafides with the American public when he railed incessantly about out of control military spending. Is Paul now headed on a McCain path? Hmmm...
ejzim (21620)
That's why I changed my mind about McCain. It's not about new information changing one's opinion, it's about lack of commitment to any philosophy. Translation: lack of character. That what makes them all smarmy liars.
mabraun (NYC)
Rand Paul may be crazy but today's voters ought to consider that LBJ was once thought to be one of the Southern Confederacy's dead enders. Politically tinged cartoons from the 1960's show Southern Democrats singing "Dixie", with LBJ keeping time.
The recent "ahistoric" movie about "Selma" Alabama has LBJ painted as the mastermind behind the blackmailing of Martin Luther King . Clearly, many people still see him as a secret member of the Stars and Bars club. But one needs to look at what LBJ did with congress before he resigned over his horrible turn into oncoming traffic in Vietnam.
If LBJ was worthy of salvage, it may be possible that Paul, confronted by the realities which sunk Johnson, ,Ford, Carter, Bush 1, CLinton and Obama might find himself forced to defend numerous programs and ideas that go against the grain of libertarianism.
In the White House, the tides and gravity are different, than on Capitol Hill and a President hasn't the luxury to be able to just cut off foreign aid, "Stop the government I want to get off!", or cede all power to local sheriffs and turn off the power at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Wilson could do all his own typing, answer his own telephone(all one of them), but we were just a baby Great-ish power then. Today, we are going too fast to stop so easily, now without a lot of crockery and bones being broken.
ejzim (21620)
It would be helpful if any of these so-called candidates understood that.
CW West (providence, RI)
Does Rand Paul think no one will dig up recordings of his past positions? Mitt Romney' s credibility evaporated as he constantly had to say "what I really meant to say . . ." Media folk need to have belief in their convictions and not get pushed around - afraid to lose access. I don't watch the Today Show but they should have put a reel together with the statements Paul made and challenged him to come on and defend his flip flopping.... It's going to be an election season of more stupid stuff we've grown to expect. This is how we get lower voter interest in the clown show.
You are correct, as there is an (R) after his name. If there was a (D) after his name previous policy positions like:

Forceful opposition to gay marriage

If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, PERIOD.

Previous statements are only to be used for accountability if there is an (R) after the candidates name.
daughter (New England)
This is exactly why we are going to sorely miss Jon Stewart during election season.
skier (vermont)
After his egregious berating of Savannah Guthrie, in the NBC interview; Rand Paul is toast.
Just another arrogant MD, disdainful of women..hardly the person you would want to see leading this country, on the world stage.
Nikita (PA)
His response was even better reason for never considering him serious....he came out and said... " i am brash, impulsive and abrasive...." Not exactly characteristics one looks for when handing over the nuclear launch codes.........
Jim David (Fort pierce)
Except, most of his supposed knowledgeability is completely wrong, utterly useless mischaracterizations, of what is really going on. Sure he has his wildly cheering Oligharchic Tea Partiers, but since they don't know anything, either, his nonsensical takes on things is perfectly ok with them...take him seriously?....only if you want to elect a seventh grader with positions based on arbitrary fun facts that are "common sense" to Fox News.
Stacy (Manhattan)
Good grief, this guy can't emotionally withstand an interview on the Today Show! He gets all testy and falls apart when asked the simplest of questions. How would he manage Putin, or Merkel, or or Netanyahu - tough leaders who push back hard and don't just stroke his ego? I suspect he'd either lose his temper or start crying. He is so obviously not presidential material, why are we wasting our time even talking about it?
Carbona (Arlington, VA)
Did you actually watch the ENTIRE interview? The interviewer was confused by nuance .. it is problem across the board, the interviewers force all the candidates to dumb down their replies and then we blame the candidates for being dumb. In this case, I fully support Rand Paul.
EuroAm (Ohio, USA)
Politicians used to have ideas and went canvasing for we have committees with agendas canvasing for electable candidates. This is Not progress.
Larry Roth (upstate NY)
This article is frightening in a number of ways, not least for what it leaves out as well as what it buys into. If Paul seems to be having trouble dealing with the press, it is because some members of the press are actually asking questions about his real record, trying to understand what he actually stands for.

This piece on his chances talks up his ability to appeal to young people with a few hot-button issue sound bites, but fails to note there is no substance supporting them. His record as a legislator fails to show any ability to get anything done - except generate press and raise money. There's no mention that both he and his father have some pretty troubling elements in their career - Ron Paul has ties to blatantly racist positions, while Rand Paul has conspiracy-hawker Alex Jones firmly in his corner. Both of them might sound superficially reasonable, but get them talking at any length and the underlying craziness begins to seep out after about 5 minutes.

In more normal times, both Pauls would have been dismissed as cranks - people with entertainment value best taken with a large grain of salt. Despite the kid-glove treatment this article gives Rand Paul, there's more than a hint we're dealing with a sociopathic type here, someone expert in gaming the system and manipulating people to get what he wants - power. There is nothing in this piece that indicates Rand Paul has anything to bring to the presidency except ambition - the GOP in a nutshell.
In more normal times then Sen Obama would have received similar treatment. After which he would have been rightly dismissed as to liberal for a national candidate (per National Journal's rankings).

That didn't happen, and instead we had a candidate who was able to avoid the vetting process and much to his credit devise a plan to incite the occasional voter to put down US WEEKLY and vote for him because he "seemed cool" and after all George Clooney thinks he's swell.
Portlandia (Orygon)
Yes, and somehow Obama managed to be elected not once, but twice! Brought the country back from the brink of economic collapse. Brought unemployment down to about 6%. Finally got a national health plan that enrolled over 11 million previously uninsured people. Then caught Osama Bin Laden. No wonder right-wingers hate Obama. Hard to explain -let alone accept- failure on such a large scale.
Maybe the 1% are excited about the economic condition that the Congressional Democrats foisted on the nation starting in late 2007 (mortgage redlining complaints by Jesse Jackson brought about the change I mortgage lending standards combined with the Democrat bigwig who ruined Fannie Mae).

The same people who aren't impressed by this terrible labor force participation rate are also not impressed by the great recovery for the 1%.

Nearly all presidents are re-elected. Even Nixon and Johnson were. Pres. Obama was fortunate to have jumped in during a momentarily high participation rate for voters (the U.S. WEEKLY readers previously mentioned), but that moment has passed and those sometimes voters will go back to the E Channel and not be heard from for another 20 years.
SMcBrideR (Kent, CT)
If Ron Paul's current mouth does not get him in trouble, his past mouth will. Nasty, bizarre comments have spewed from his lips. If his quotes, manner and attitude, past and present don't kill his chances, the Republican establishment led by Rep.Peter King will. Without the support from his own party, its "lights out".
CraigieBob (Wesley Chapel, FL)
Sorry -- The best reason to take Rand Paul seriously isn't good enough.
JoeB (Sacramento, Ca)
Don't underestimate the desire of voters to have the Washington crowd challenged, even if it is by a neophyte with limited experience. Experience also comes with baggage, who do you owe, while being the new kid on the block gives a greater freedom. His willingness to give and take a punch may make him standout from other candidates who stay in the safe zone.

I don't agree with his views, nor do I see him progressing very far this election, but he certainly can be building his base for 2024 or for a third party, if he wants to stick to his guns. In the meantime he needs to learn how to be angry with politicians while remaining polite and unruffled with reporters.
Lucian Roosevelt (Barcelona, Spain)
You can have the best organization in the world, the most organized and efficient Super PACs in your corner, the tightest internet-social media strategy and policies that resonate with the electorate; but if your candidate lacks the requisite likability, charisma, charm and gravitas to be president, none of it matters.

If ground game and organization was the most important factor, we would have had President Nixon in 1960, a second term for President Carter, a second term for President George HW Bush term, President Gore, President Kerry and President Hillary Clinton.

None of those four won because they were less likable, less charismatic and less charming than their opponents (JFK, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama)

It's really that simple.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Reagan used treason with Iran to unseat Carter.

What a country this is.
Tullymd (Bloomington, Vt)
He's likable unlike Cruz or Christie.
Lucian Roosevelt (Barcelona, Spain)
I put Cruz as the very least likable out of all of them, followed closely by Rick Santorum and Christie. Walker is very unlikable as well.

I would argue that the only two candidates who have the requisite charisma/likability to get elected are Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
Stephen J Johnston (Jacksonville Fl.)
Since Citizens United made Corporate Bribery Legal and Corporate Lobbyists are now writing legislation for our "Representatives" to approve, the deliberative function of the Congress by which it decided who shall have, who shall not have, and above all what is fair, has become moot. Lobbyists ensconced at K Street and Corporate Money have not narrowed elective choices, but they have severely limited the range of possible policy outcomes.

The Economics of Rand Paul are simple minded to the point of being idiotic, and neither the dogma of the Austrians or the flawed assumptions of the first principles, which underly Friedmanite Thinking are appropriate to a modern monetary economy. That said, Paul like nearly all Republicans is equipped by his intellectual predilections to mostly do harm to whatever he seeks to fix in the American Economy.

The only message of importance which Paul had to inform the Republicans of was: to steer away from Imperial Warfare with its predictably noxious blowback, and return to the values which had once been held by the Federalist Founders of this Republic. Well he has now re calibrated and reneged upon all of that a Republic and not an Empire stuff. In so doing, he has made himself more or less irrelevant.

In a field of Republicans all of whom appear to be both poorly educated and ill informed or who at least have assumed that all of us are, Paul is just another Conservative who just can't be too radically committed to a Corporate Agenda.
maria (Austin, Texas)
So, he has a savvy team, but is the electorate that stupid?
Allan (Austin)
CalypsoArt (Hollywood, FL)
Bush twice.
Cornflower Rhys (Washington, DC)
Rhetorical question, right?
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
Trust me, in the end primary voters will admire his mastery of process details but sit back and ask themselves, given his views, just how electable is he? They'll nominate Jeb Bush.
Buddy Rogers (Catskills)
Interesting, considering flyover country, aka the silent majority, aka the Republican base want nothing to do with Jeb Bush as their candidate.
Jeb Bush = a shoe-in for the woman who has less qualifications, if actual accomplishments mean anything on a resume, than anyone the Republicans end up nominating.
The country is so Bush weary, regardless of how much $$$ Karl Rove spends and his Bushies on FNC spin, the base will sit out. Jeb Bush, Democrat-Lite/RINO, frankly is UN-electable.
Dotconnector (New York)
Every four years, after each presidential election cycle (a period that lasts less than three months, roughly from Election Day to Inauguration Day), news organizations offer various apologias, self-flagellations and mea culpas about how they do much too much horse race journalism. As well they should.

Invariably, after what appears to be sincere -- even sober --reflection, they express a firm purpose of amendment. Indeed, "we'll be less superficial and more substantive next time."

Then, without skipping a beat, they continue to do much too much horse race journalism. All the while wondering why readers don't take them more seriously.
sophia (bangor, maine)
I was a caucus worker for Pres. Obama in 2008 in Orono, Maine, a small university town. I had never participated in the primary caucus before. We had a huge turn-out, hundreds of people came. Obama's team had about six people working. Hillary? Not a one. Not one person to help organize and lead her supporters. I truly was astonished. Yes, Obama's strategy worked. Her campaign leaders didn't see it coming.

Rand Paul would be frightening as president. But his run for it will be interesting to watch.
CalypsoArt (Hollywood, FL)
There is a difference. The Obama campaign was about hope and positive progress. Paul's is about anger and taking the country "back". An old friend who had been a republican said he will not vote for any candidate with the word "back" in their slogans.
Rita (California)
The most interesting part of his campaign is the type of supporters he draws.
chibi-wan (rochester,ny)
Well this just tells me that Paul is a boob and if you understand the local and state elections correctly you can win. Is he really a boob, yes but if you have the money and the know how you can win. That is how the GOP got Reagan and the two Bushes to be President. And the covert leaders behind the boobs to run this country. Why do you think the GOP hate Obama and B.Clinton because they have brains and ideas that work. The people mean nothing to these guys it is run say anything you want and repeat it over and over again until the lie becomes truth. Because Americans will buy anything.
LaylaS (Chicago, IL)
Mr. Flip Flop is hardly an "authentic" candidate. Of course, he claims he's not a flip flopper, his views are just "evolving." I wonder how he feels about the scientific theory of evolution. I wonder how he's "evolved" about the rights of women to control their own bodies. I wonder how he's "evolved" about the rights of restaurant owners to refuse service to African-Americans and others they might not like. I wonder how he's "evolved" on the rights of real human individuals vs. the "rights" of Corporate Persons. I wonder how he's "evolved" on immigration.

When are we going to hear a solid statement from him on his own beliefs rather than an imperious attempt to instruct a female reporter on the proper way to do her job? Somehow I think he hasn't "evolved" at all, but instead he's "devolved" into a candidate that might be more appealing to the Koch Brothers and their ilk.
yes, reminds me of Pres Obama's "evolving views about gay marriage...
Henry Stites (Scottsdale, Arizona)
The only way Rand Paul can be a credible candidate is in the mind's of people who need to write a stories like this, or talking heads who desperately need something and/or someone to talk about to fill that 24 hour entertainment cycle on CNN, CNBC or, worse still, Fox.
Ron (Wisconsin)
As a progressive voter, I find many of Rand Paul's positions very attractive (and many others troublesome). I don't hear the all-but-coronated Hillary talking about reigninig in the surveillance state, reducing the draconian sentences that result in America imprisoning its citizens at ten times then rate of European nations, or avoiding the inclination to see every international problem as a nail for the hammer of our bloated military. In a field of rogues, Rand Paul is the only Republican that just might get my vote. I want a candidate with integrity and principled views rather than another aparachik of a corrupt system.
Rita (California)
How would you know the policy positions of a candidate who can't answer questions about them? How could you know the positions of a candidate when the media focuses on made up sideshow issues?
Normanomics (NY)
At least he is only cranky, not thin-skinned too. I'm sure Senator Paul appreciates the coverage, but this is the second time this week he is characterized as out of the mainstream......a negative label for anyone not named Bush. I think the young, smart, aggressive, thoughtful Republican candidates can survive without the Times backhanded compliments.
AJ (Burr Ridge, IL)
The Republican primary system composed of small groups of various "idealists" cannot win a national election composed of mostly realists.
Impedimentus (Nuuk)
All of this talk about Rand Paul being an authentic politician is just media hype. He says a few things from time to time that are outside the Republican radical right echo chamber and the press gets all excited because he seems a little different than the far right radicals that represent today's G.O.P. stable of candidates. Paul has changed his views on foreign and domestic policy from speech to speech. He does seem to know how to talk down to female members of the media, apparently he feels threatened by them, hardly a plus. His father was eccentric but genuine. Rand Paul is neither.
historylesson (Norwalk, CT)
This is an interesting article, but it's secondary to Randal Paul's character, professional history, constant change of positions and policy, and qualifications to be president of anything, let alone the United States.

It's astonishing to read the comments calling him "authentic." Authentic in what ways? Calling himself Rand, and explaining he's named after Ayn Rand, when his name is Randal Paul? Authentically a board certified doctor -- by creating his very own board and certifying himself, when he couldn't get board certified by the real medical board?

Authentically lifting huge hunks of speeches from Wikipedia and the Heritage Foundation, and when confronted by the theft, responding by whining and blaming people who are out to get him? Biden was crucified for plagiarism in a speech decades ago. Paul just goes his merry, "authentic" way, and the subject somehow disappears into the vortex of maverick, libertarian, and authentic labels he's attached to himself, along with the aura of his father.

He's got a message -- he's going to take back America? From who? And who is he going to give America to, instead? Empty words from an empty suit, who looks like a curly-haired post-grad student, trying to find his way to his next class, unable to read the map.

Thanks, Kentucky: Mitch McConnell and Randal Paul.
PogoWasRight (Melbourne Florida)
Mr. Paul is the "fakiest" and the "flakiest" of all the GOP candidates so far. It is beyond me, and it frightens me, that ANY American voters would accept him as a "serious" candidate, and would ever want hime to occupy the White House.
Stacy (Manhattan)
I wouldn't describe his message of "taking back America" as empty words. He really means it. He wants to take America back from every progressive advancement since FDR and return it to a time when there was no Social Security, no welfare programs, no medical insurance programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare), heck not even any "government" schools (and that goes way back to something like the 18th century, at least in New England). His ideal world isn't so much an Ayn Rand novel as "Lord of the Flies." It is an unregulated Hobbesian struggle of a few winner and many losers - with himself, of course, at the top of the heap.
sherry (Virginia)
"calls for more rational sentencing guidelines, a less intrusive national-security apparatus and a restrained foreign policy "

Those ideas may appeal to the young and libertarians, as the article suggests, but they look good to older progressives too. It's been a long time since we had a candidate from a major party talking like that. So long I can't remember that time. If Rand Paul is the Republican candidate, which I'm having a hard time believing the Republican establishment will allow, Democrats have their work cut out for them.
Nikita (PA)
Democrats, including the President and Attorney General, have been advocating for those things for a long time. If we want to have them then republicans have to be returned to a small minority in congress.
Christine McMorrow (Waltham, MA)
We have reached a point in our country where money and organization are the determining factors in how a candidate fares in primaries, and general elections. It's almost (I do say almost) as if a dog, or a Forest Gump could win the presidency with the right funding and staff.

Qualifications, temperament, character assets--these get lost in the shuffle. As does the agenda and reason for running. These last points should be the most important of all since they will determine how a presidency--or term in Congress--will flow.

As much as I follow the political process, I'm sickened by all the extraneous forces that allow so politicians to think they have the smarts and guts to lead this nation. In essence, we've allowed this to happen by our prior votes. People are so easily captivated by shop-worn phrases like "take back our country" which is maddening: take it back from whom? As far as I know, we aren't in colonial thrall to England, or ruled by a dictator.

Yet. In the 30s, Sinclair Lewis wrote his novel "It Can't Happen Here," to point out that perhaps the reigning ideology of the day--fascism--could given the right circumstances. American voters need to begin to hold candidates feet to the fire when they talk about "agendas."

Nothing less than specificity about their proposals will do in an age of easy money and campaign maneuverings.
Sue Cohen (Rockville MD)
What a disservice to voters articles like this are! Anyone running for our nation's highest office deserves to be fully vetted and Paul's record is full of lies, distortions and outright hypocrisy.
Just a few:
1. Paul believes in a very limited role for the federal government, that is, of course unless you have a vagina! Then he wants total control on a woman's right to choose and lies to make points and is never exposed by articles like these.
2. Paul grew up benefiting from all the advantages of his father's federal pay--Ron Paul was a Congressman for over 20 years and his family received that golden health care plan and very livable salary.
3. Paul has bilked the federal government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars as he is NOT an accredited ophthalmologist! He could not pass the exams and invented his own accreditation group, of which his wife is the President and he it's ONLY member!
4. He did NOT graduate from college though claimed he has not one but two degrees-how nice to have a pappy's help getting into Medical School!
5. He has changed positions almost on a daily basis as he panders to the right then tries to jump back to the middle--And when queried, he attacks the reporter to deflect, distort and blame.
It should not matter if he has assembled the finest campaign staff in US political history.
Media and accurate journalism are not supposed to be echo chambers and write puff pieces for anyone!
Rose in PA (Pennsylvania)
I appreciate your list, and I am NOT a fan of Paul's, but I do wonder how he could not have graduated from college? Is there a credible source for that? I wonder how he can explain that away?
Sue Cohen (Rockville MD)
There you go friend:
Apparently ( and having Ron Paul as your dad) if you fulfill all the prerequisites,, some Med Schools will allow--But I suspect neither you or I could have done that?
alan (longisland, ny)
Please cite your sources. He is an MD and did not graduate from college??? He has bilked the federal govenment out of hundreds of thousands of dollars cause he's not "acreddited??? Do you mean board certified?
Carolyn (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
As per the SCOTUS mandate that allowed "corporations to become people," so the elections are more a reflection of the same. We the people are being manipulated with image over substance, money over truth, loop holes and voting technicalities over honest persuasion and a serious connection with the American people. In other words, it really doesn't matter what a candidate actually stands for; it's all about his or her "handlers," and what THEY stand for.

I've watched freedom and integrity take a nose dive in this country. Insurance companies are particularly egregious in maximizing profits through unscrupulous campaigns like Obamacare and an inappropriate relationship with both banks and so called state regulators. If Rand Paul, in his quest to restore freedom, can offer even a fraction of the autonomy each individual has lost in this country, he would have my vote. But at the moment, I have to consider: am I voting for him or his "handlers?" The majority of the Republican party is too corrupt to consider. to the point where the Republican congress unabashedly paid homage to a foreign president. It's unlikely they would support Rand Paul when they can't even represent their own people. Rand Paul should run as an independent if he doesn't want to be tarnished by the GOP. He might have a serious shot at the presidency then.
Jim Lyons (Staten Island)
I received an email from the Paul campaign the other day.

"Henry – (Oops) Yesterday I announced I'm running for President of the United States of America because I want to defeat the Washington machine. "

Asking me to contribute. A lifelong Democrat who worked for President Obama in 2007 in Iowa and again in 2012.

But this was not sent by the mean Washington machine, but
by the candidate himself! It was signed as below.

"Rand Paul

Sent from my iPad"

PogoWasRight (Melbourne Florida)
Thanks - a perfect demonstration of who he is and the extent of his ability.
Steven McCain (New York)
I like Rand Paul. My likes are causing me a lot of conflict in my community but I am making headway. Being African American and thinking of supporting Rand in 2016 is tough row to hoe. Older African Americans are already lining up to pull the lever for Hillary. I haven't seen a lot of enthusiasm with other parts of my community for Hillary. In 2008 when Obama ran standing in line two hours before the polls opened behind an African American lady 80 years old and using a cane who was standing in front of me. When someone asked her why she put herself through this ordeal of waiting more than two hours to vote. What she did and said brought tears to anyone standing around her within earshot. She raised her cane and said one word Freedom! I see none of that fire in the gut for Hillary. The Dems can talk a good game in my community but as of late it is mostly talk. I talk to more and more people who are growing tired of being taken for granted by the Dems. Paul is speaking about things seldom broached by the Dems. Things like relief for felons to be able to vote. The unjust justice system, the nation building wars of choice and other things dear to my community. He even spoke of the young man killed in the gas station for wising off to the man who later shot him through the door of his car. More and more I am hearing why is it only Paul talking about these things and not Hillary or the Dems. We look at the right as being racist but some of us will give Paul a look.
Rita (California)
If you haven't heard "Dems" talking about your issues, then you haven't been listening. Sen. Paul makes news because he agrees with "Dems" more than "Pubs".
fast&furious (the new world)
Give him a closer look.

Rand Paul's various statements in support of discrimination in service of owners of private property: (here's two, there's plenty more like this if you look around )

Rand Paul on the Civil Rights Act, in an interview with the editorial board of the Louisville Courier Journal on April 17, 2010: "I think it's a bad business decision to exclude anyone from your restaurant - but at the same time, I do believe in private ownership."

Rand Paul, from a letter in 2002, on the Fair Housing Act:
"Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate."

-both of the above from the Washington Post, 4/11/2013
MD Cooks (West Of The Hudson)
I find this part of comment very odd and wonder where is the logic?

""Paul is speaking about things seldom broached by the Dems. Things like relief for felons to be able to vote. The unjust justice system, the nation building wars of choice and other things dear to my community. He even spoke of the young man killed in the gas station for wising off to the man who later shot him through the door of his car. "

It does not make sense to be supportive of giving felons the right to vote, then speaking of a crime victim.

To me Rand Paul only choose to run under the GOP but is more in line with the liberal left and hopefully he will not obtain the nomination...
SD (Denmark)
Rand Paul's campaign team is nothing extraordinary. The practice of calculating delegate math and leveraging party rules is how every campaign operates. And talking about those who ran his father's campaigns as savvy veterans is ludicrous. How did Paul the father's campaigns turn out? He was not much more than a sideshow in a ridiculously inept Republic nomination process. His one memorable moment in the spotlight last time around was stolen by a heckler who shouted "Let 'em die!" when candidate Paul was asked about the consequences of his libertarian philosophy with respect to critically sick people.

But if Rand Paul is going to do better, he'll have to rein in his pique; arrogance does not equal charisma. Of course, he'll also have to avoid plagiarism, self-contradiction, and loading content on his website not rife with spelling errors.

Please, NYT, the horse-race nonsense has damaged our political process enough. Don't make it worse by trying to prop up the unqualified.
Peter (Metro Boston)
Ron Paul received a consistent 10-15% of the vote in the 2012 primaries and caucuses and campaigned until the end. After April 3rd he routinely outpolled Santorum and Gringrich.

I found the persistence of Ron Paul's supporters impressive, though obviously there aren't enough of them to win a Republican presidential nomination. I don't them see them all converting to Rand, though. Ted Cruz seems like a possible alternative for Ron Paul supporters who think Rand is too slippery.

In the end it's going to come down to Bush, an uncompetitive social conservative like Huckabee, and someone else, the candidate that consolidates the "anybody but Bush" vote. Walker or Rubio seem like plausible contenders for this role, but the Republican primary electorate is fickle. In 2012 Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, and Cain each caught the fancy of the "anybody but Romney" crowd for a few weeks before falling off the charts. Once Romney beat Santorum in March and early April the campaign was over.

Early 2016 polling shows one striking difference between this campaign and the one in 2012. In March, 2011, two-thirds of the Republicans polled did not express a preference. Today fewer than a quarter are undecided, and most of them support candidates other than Bush. Jeb's numbers are currently about equal to Romney's in March/April of 2011.
JustinRogers (US)
RE: "The practice of calculating delegate math and leveraging party rules is how every campaign operates"

Yeah, but only a handful of campaigns actually work the ground game effectively to get the delegates. As for how Ron Paul did, the author already addressed your question, making the point that the ground game kept Ron Paul in the contest a lot longer than anyone would have otherwise expected. Did you not read the article?
DeathbyInches (Arkansas)
Oh New York Times....must you make every wacky Republican candidate a sure winner just to keep your readers all stirred up while you suck up every dollar the losers have in their campaign chest? This is the 4th, 5th or 6th campaign cycle that this has been going on. Oh yes...Tom Tancredo is on the road to the White House! Herman Cain.....the come from behind dark horse winner! Mike Huckabee.....America loves him!

Randal Paul is even nuttier than his Dad. He's an empty suit with a dead poodle pelt on his head. He has flip flopped 10 times more than Mitt ever thought about. He runs from Mexican teenagers! He wasn't sure he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act.

Since he has nothing he's going to try to be combative with every media person that gets near him because GOPers love media bashing almost as much as endless war! Such a fake! America is over if the voters put another Republican in the White House this soon after Bush-Cheney. Do you not remember those 8 horrible years? We're still suffering from the insanely criminal things they did!

I'm a recovering Republican so I know what I'm talking about because I used to be one of them. If only the paper of record would worry more about the truth & the future of this stumbling country & less about pretending the 18 Republican presidential wannabees are viable candidates voters should consider....we'd all be better off & maybe it won't take a Civil War 2 to stop the madness.
Ginger (New Jersey)
Anyone but Bush or Clinton. Appalling that the two of them are running. Why? Clinton has been wrong about everything and her cackling over "we came, we saw, he died" marks her as an inhumanity cruel individual. Bush's father and brother were lousy presidents; Jeb and his donors and cronies are all about greed. So far, I like Rand Paul; he has a pleasant, serious demeanor and I do not care if he does not bow and scrape to millionaire reporters like Guthrie.
Nathan an Expat (China)
Rand's most attractive policy, sincere or not, is his heretical suggestion that the US might want to rethink its all war all the time foreign policy and constant fixation with stirring up trouble and fomenting unrest in other parts of the world. While very profitable for war and reconstruction profiteers addicted to untrammelled and now unquestioned access to the US treasury it has been and remains a humanitarian disaster for the parts of the world where these policies have played out. Tragically, having destabilised and gutted the Middle East for at least a generation the beast now turns its gaze on Asia with the Pacific Pivot (Our most modern missile systems and weapons for everyone!) and Northern Africa with more arms sales and "training". You know, because we don't really want to do it but gosh the world just needs us there selling weapons and weapons systems. You know just doing what we can to "stabilise" these regions. Oh for a choice on election day to stop the wars and starve the beast! Not going to happen. Rand or anybody else who got in the way of this slow motion money spinning 25 year horror show would never make it to the ballot box. Corporate interests and their captive media would make sure of that.
MTF Tobin (Manhattanville, NY)
On the day Sen. Paul announced his candidacy, his website made available various profile pictures for people to download for use on social media. "Fisherman for Rand" said one, for example. "Italian-American for Rand" said another.

"Woman for Rand", "Muslim for Rand", and "Republican for Rand" were reportedly unavailable.

"Jew for Rand" WAS available, later changed to "Jewish for Rand".

Who could possibly call a campaign staff even "skilled", much less using more complimentary adjectives, when this is what they have prepared for Announcement Day?

Incidentally, no Medical School graduate has ever been elected President. I predict it will happen someday; but I don't think a person who has one a single general election will be the first.

One can also look to Sen. Paul's pursuit of 2 offices simultaneously, and draw conclusions from that.
Barbara (Washington, upper left)
Sadly, this makes voting for the President much like votes for best actress/actor at the Oscars. We don't know who the person running is but we vote for her/him based largely on how (choose acceptable pronoun) character was produced, directed, presented, made up. Instead of a film studio, we have our own consumerism to thank for the political products we are producing. We,and I do mean we, buy the products that supports the money that runs the candidates. No wonder politicians are willing to buy the best team they can to win.
Great article.
jimbo (seattle)
I am totally mystified why anyone votes for a Republican, except for those who want to install a theocracy. The current Republican Party sprang up from the racist reaction to LBJ's civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Bigotry is not a Christian virtue.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
It would help your argument if you actually knew what a theocracy is. Is Rand Paul a priest or minister? What religion is he? (I have no idea, actually). There are hundreds of Christian sects in the US -- which of them, pray tell, would tun this so-called "theocracy"? Because they all disagree pretty strongly with one another!
continuousminer (CNY)
I can only assume that the Times are waiting for another 10 months to rip this man down hard, for who he truly is. And I get that. But perhaps you'll pay some lip service in the coming months to Rand Paul's links to neo-Confederate hate groups, talk a little bit about who Bruce Fein is, tie Paul in with Edward Snowden (which is a crucial component here), and maybe get into the kind of folks they staff at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute and how Paul just fawns all over them . I can't wait till the Times lays THAT kind of info on us...
Mark (Tucson, AZ)
Do you mean the junior senator from Kentucky who plagiarized other people's speeches as his own? At least we know Paul is intellectually dishonest!
Tom Schmit (Riga, LV)
The ground game is so great that it opens with a website that misspells "education" and a candidate who walks out on interviews. I can't wait for what else this great ground game holds.
Nick Metrowsky (Longmont, Colorado)
Does it matter who actually wins the nomination or the White House? Who ever gets elected is beholding to the PACc, special interests and the wealthy who paid to put them there. The same goes fro Congress, one's governor and state legislature. Elections are no longer won by good candidates; they are won by who get get the most money to do so.

Here we are 19 months before election day, 2016. And with it 19 months of campaign ads, robo calls and tearing down candidates to follow. And with it billions of dollars will be spent to elect a "puppet" President.

I must admit that Rand Paul has some good ideas (revoke the Patriot Act, cut down on the military, slim down government, and the like). But, also some not so good ones (privatize Social Security, vouchers for Medicare, Medicaid, education). And of course, lower taxes and Ayn Rand economics. Standard Tea Party,, GOP far right philosophy; though, he will say he is not part of the Tea Party movement.

If his strategy works, all the luck to him. He is well liked by younger voters and sends cringes to older conservatives. The GOP certainly needs to be shaken up; Rand Paul can certainly do it.

On the Democrat side, we will most likely have Hillary Clinton. A match up that could prove interesting when we finally get to debating in 2016. She is not a shoo-in for President; due to Bill Clinton baggage. What will win; arrogance or charisma? Think Nixon versus Kennedy; charisma won.
Doris (Chicago)
We saw Mr. Paul does not like to be interviewed by reporters who ask tough questions, especially female reporters. Paul has the same "war on women" mindset as all other Republcians, and sponsored "the Life at Conception" bill. He also opposes marriage equality. I remember seeing the video of a Paul body guard step the head of a female with a sign at his KY appearance, Rand Paul did nothing. He also opposes the legalization of pot, which will put him at odds with young people, and which is at odds with his so called sentence guidelines.
Reporters do a massive disservice when they portray a candidate as being so moderate when they are extreme.
A (Bangkok)
Must it continually be repeated that HRC had the necessary delegate count in 2008 to bag the nomination had not the DNC discounted, by half, her Michigan and Florida delegates at the convention for holding their primaries out of turn?

So how did HRC's campaign team miscalculate? Answers?

I thought so.
proudcalib (CA)
In 2008, the DNC announced would impose a penalty on any state moving up its primary, and every candidate, including Hillary Clinton agreed to this policy. It was only after Clinton's campaign fell behind in the delegate count to Obama that she reversed her position.
taylor (ky)
I am on the floor, tears are rolling down my face from laughter!
Adirondax (mid-state New York)
The difference in the delegate count between the Clinton and Obama campaigns in '08 was the total he amassed in the caucus states. These were contests for which she had no strategy to speak of.

That spoke volumes about Clinton's ineptness and was nothing short of incredible.
Joe (NYC)
Rand Paul, like Ted Cruz And Sarah Palin, is nothing more than sound bites. Beyond their occasional zingers, they have no substance. If Rand can't handle Savannah Guthrie, how's he going to handle Putin?
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
Election rules and primary rules that are "too complex" for the average voter to understand, are corrupt and devised for corruption.
Petronius (Miami, FL)
If, a big "if", Rand Paul wins the nomination the Repubs will have another Goldwater fiasco. Wishes do come true. Go Paul!
Mario (Cincinnati)
Rand Paul is the only politician of caliber in a wasteland of duds. He could very well be the statesman we have waiting in the last century. Good brain with solid insight in direction and views. He may be the only American fit for the modern world
Amy (Nevada)
Views like, "more rational sentencing guidelines, a less intrusive national-security apparatus and a restrained foreign policy" are the reason that Rand Paul is able to inspire tireless activists. The policy views are not independent of the powerful organization, they're the driving force behind the organization. And that is why Rand Paul must be taken seriously.
DR (New England)
That won't last as he continues to flip flop.
John W Lusk (Danbury, Ct)
Except that no one asks him exactly he intends to do these things. He mentions doing away with the IRS which as President he does not have the power to do. So does anyone ask him how will he do it. Maybe a flat tax? Great until people see their rates go up compared to what they are now.
Danny V (Boston)
Rand Paul is not unlike every other political candidate. They ALL talk out of both sides of their mouths. Does any body actually think the nominees will be anybody other than Clinton and Bush?

I've said this many times and have been accused of being radical. So be it..until this country has another revolution, we will continue to be the land of the haves and have nots. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and even Robert Riech are marginalized by stating the truth. Why? Because they speak out against Wall Street.
comeonman (Las Cruces)
Where is the candidate who will run "AGAINST BIG MONEY" "Make Corporations pay their taxes," "Raise taxes on the super wealthy to 1960 levels," "Stop investing in Corporate welfare and start investing in the people of this country again?"
The wealthy think they can just pull up stakes and leave, or turn off the tap as it were, where will they go?
Whosoever campaigns on this ticket will win, hands down. NOT Clinton, she will side with big money, as did her husband. Warren?

Warren is the only one who went after big money that I know of. Has anyone else?
N B (Texas)
No candidate can win the money race by bashing corporate America. If you live in a competitive state, (which Texas is not) the money to buy attack and lie ads inundates the media, be it TV or radio or talk radio especially near election time. It takes a rich politician like Teddy Roosevelt or FDR to take on corporate America. Bloomberg could do it but he makes his money from corporate America so that is not an option. And Warren would be another conscience candidate like McGovern so sure to loose. The GOP hopes a Warren comes along for the Demos just like the Demos hope a Cruz comes along for the GOP.
bocheball (NYC)
Bernie Sanders is that candidate!
Take a look at Bernie Sanders.
BrianP (Atlanta, GA)
' If Paul’s views are unusually idealistic, the ground game that his team is planning is pure realpolitik.'

Paul's views _were_ idealistic maybe 5-7 years ago. Back then, he was loopy but it was interesting to read some (not all) of his ideas and how he would solve problems. Now, he is morphing into a more traditional candidate, changing his long-held beliefs to accommodate the puppet-masters funding his campaign and the team running his ground game. To me he is turning into a Romney. With both of these candidates, I just don't know what they truly believe anymore and that makes them extremely untrustworthy.
RH (Georgia)
The reason to take Rand Paul seriously is that he talks about critical issues like the broken criminal justice system that no other conventional candidate wants to grapple with. I often don't agree with him but he has the guts to try to change the scripted and mindless narratives that pass for a contested election these days.
DR (New England)
Yes, he talks about them and then when he meets any opposition at all, he backs up so fast he makes a beeping noise.
zb (bc)
Its hard to take anyone seriously who has been out of college as long as he has and still takes Ayn Rand seriously.
PogoWasRight (Melbourne Florida)
The absolutely best reason for taking Rand Paul seriously, in addition to the fact that he is a politician, is FEAR. That is, fear for our country if he were to occupy the White House. And your commentary reveals for us, once again, the "tangled webs", "woven to deceive", which are, unfortunately, always present in political campaigns - at all levels of government from local to national.
Jay Casey (Japan)
Paul may be interesting but so is just about any disaster. The policy and philosophy of Libertarianism and Ayn Rand is too self-centered, dog-eat-dog, and bleak for most Americans. We actually care about our neighbors.
Richard Marcley (Albany NY)
When I was a boy, my father told me that in America anyone could be the president.
If only he knew!
It would be easier if I was a believer; I could pray for someone to save us!
James B. Huntington (Eldred, New York)
What is Rand Paul about, and where does he stand on the jobs crisis's effects? See
hellslittlest angel (philadelphia)
An article proclaiming that Rand Paul must be taken seriously is just another reason NOT to take him seriously.

He is this election's Newt Gingrich -- a self-infatuated demagogue who's in it to titillate his ego and expand his donor mailing-list. He won't last long.
Raymond (BKLYN)
Better take R.Paul seriously as a highly accomplished scam artist. He's the certified eye doctor … who certified himself. Now if that doesn't qualify him to be taken seriously, nothing does. Caveat emptor.
Ray Baum (Millstone, NJ)
Nope. Say what you will about so called "strategists", he is still firmly strapped into the back seat of the GOP clown car. A foot note just like dear old dad, (and Rick Insanitourum).
Coolhunter (New Jersey)
Like details? Who is that? Not the American electorate, they like simple. The idea that Paul can be the 'professor' candidate goes against a real understanding of the American electorate, which is 'keep it simple, stupid'. Proof of that is O, himself. O ran on stupid, better called 'hope and change'. Ms. Hillary will run on 'equal', and the American electorate will fall for it, as usual. Sad.
Kevin Cahill (Albuquerque)
Rand Paul is the only leading politician who actually speaks the truth about our absurdly high level of military spending.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Really? Haven't you heard Randy now wants to boost military spending by $150 billion off the books?

The putz hasn't got an honest bone in his body.
mj (michigan)
Unless of course you take into account he's a megalomaniacal little lunatic. Then he looks a lot less serious.

He won't be able to keep his mouth shut. He's too self important and arrogant. As the bodies trail behind him, he'll become toxic.
Stacy (Manhattan)
Best comment here. You've captured the man well.
Zeca (Oregon)
I have hopes that Rand Paul's unscripted verbal outbursts will continue to keep things entertaining in the clown car.
Josh B. (Los Angeles, CA)
I'm not a fan of Mr Paul's politics at all, and his team may be working in a pragmatic manner, but in modern times a 5'3" man with that toupee will not get the nomination.
CK (Rye)
He certainly is a character. I get a kick out of the hairpiece, or weave, or whatever it is that's keeping him from having his father's distinguished forehead.
pkbormes (Brookline, MA)
Baldness is inherited from the maternal line.
jb (ok)
pkbormes: " It was previously believed that baldness was inherited from the maternal grandfather. While there is some basis for this belief, it is now known that both parents contribute to their offspring's likelihood of hair loss. Most likely, inheritance involves many genes with variable penetrance."

Men with bald fathers will also more likely develop baldness, research has shown. Online sources have much more.
CK (Rye)
Classic indicator for his politics and who he appeals to is that Mr Paul is elected from a state where citizens take every opportunity to denigrate the President and the Federal government, while having the highest rates of people on the Federal government dole of one form or another, cigarette smoking, and obesity. His constituency is a mind-bending storm of fact-deprived social hypocrisy, special pleading, and demagoguery.
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
Mastery of the details? Is this the same campaign that was selling Rand Paul flip flops while the candidate was doing 180s in the parking lot and walking away from questions about his policy changes in a huff?
BRETT B (Phoenix, AZ)
P L E A S E!

The author's pseudo-intellectual premise far exceeds the talents of this small minded lets pretend Libertarian.

This past few days we all learned far more about Rand than anything within this poorly conceived writeup - we learned that Rand is a poor speaker with a hot temper and a demeaning way with women.

No exactly the attributes of a winning race horse from Kentucky.

This man/child is in WAY over his head.
Shilee Meadows (San Diego Ca.)
Rand Paul has already flip-flopped on his former statements on foreign policy, the Civil Rights Act, aid to Israel, Drones (filibustering against drones on the Senate floor for almost 13-hour but now for them) and immigration.

He will say anything to win. He has a problem with female reporters, just too arrogant and like Jeb is running from his family name yet depending upon it to help with his base and with the finances necessary to sustain a presidential run. He has no foreign policy chops and seems to be a walking, talking contradiction.
David (Hawaii)
I won't vote for him becuase he is personally against allowing gays to have their marriage legally recognized and secondly he is fiscally irresponsible. He says he wants a 17% flat tax when economists say you need at least 20% to pay our way given our current expenses. He has no clear message about what is to be cut and most likely no politically acceptable way to do it. So he is the typical lower your taxes but not your spending type. We have had too much of that already from both parties. He has been a big disappointment...
Michael O'Neill (Bandon, Oregon)
Rand Paul as poison pill. I like it.
Sadie Slays (Pittsburgh, PA)
Rand Paul is the only Presidential candidate thus far to offer serious drug law reform. He's the real deal on this particular issue goes considering he has been fighting for saner drug laws ever since he was elected in 2010 (years before states started decriminalizing and outright legalizing recreational marijuana). Hopefully his candidacy helps push the other Presidential candidates from both parties into adopting drug law reform into their own political platforms.
Jamakaya (Milwaukee)
Any candidate who declares himself a libertarian and says he wants to get government out of every "nook and cranny" of people's lives but who supports every new legislative regulation on women's bodies and reproductive systems cannot be taken seriously.
AN (New Jersey)
So I suppose you oppose banning the private sale of organs too to get the government out of people's reproductive organs and women's bodies.
Frank Underwood (DC)
I think we can't trust a man like Rand (never trust a man with principles)
Ronald W. Gumbs, Ph.D. (East Brunswick, New Jersey)
Senator Rand Paul should be taken seriously by the other Republican candidates for the following reasons: In a direct poll with him versus Secretary Hillary Clinton, he will perform better than the other candidates because of support among blacks; he will do well in open primaries; his name is not Clinton; Senator Ted Cruz et al will be perceived as clowns during the debates; and he could beat Hillary Clinton, if he receives the nomination.
A2er (Ann Arbor, MI)
Seriously? After Rand's meltdowns with the media?

Rand seems unable to answer anything but total softball questions without blowing up.

His command of the facts, reality and his own past statements and positions make him a questionable candidate. Even as a Republican.
DocMorgan (Northern California)
As a long time reformed Republican, but not quite aligned with the Democrats it appears to me that the group now competing and perhaps Ms Clinton as well won't be good for us. Congress is of course even worse. This is up to us to fix beginning down at the state level. I get nightmares thinking of what the last eight years would have become other than President Obama who against all odds and the vested interests has paid a hellish price to do mostly the right thing. These present candidates are much less in whole and parts than what we need. Hwaven help us on our downward run. Sen. Paul has more negative policies than he has good ones. May he leave early so we can expose the negatives easily with the rest of these critters.
B. Mull (Irvine, CA)
Rand Paul would make a great president, but it'll never happen because he has to lie about everything he believes in hopes of getting past the republic's elite gatekeepers.
c. (Seattle)
It's a truly sad day when someone with as dangerous view as Mr. Paul (close the IRS, Department of Education, EPA; slash Medicaid and food stamps; allow unlimited campaign contributions and an unfettered Randian capitalism) can succeed as a result of clever political manipulation.

Americans are easily misled and taken in by clever speeches. Mr. Paul presents a clear and present danger to the future stability of this country.
Banicki (Michigan)
Rand Paul has his whits about him and should not be taken lightly. I would hope he will win or lose based on his beliefs and communication skills and not how his team games the system. How we go about electing a president is messed up. This includes how elections are financed. Citizens United needs to be overturned....
RDeanB (Amherst, MA)
Lately, the NY Times has been relentless in producing stories about the 2016 presidential hopefuls' chances of winning. Of course, the next presidential election is important. But so are state elections and legislation. So are issues. What do the candidates really stand for? Where are we going as a country? Every story the Times pays for is another story not written. Every story featured on the web site's home page is another story given less prominence. My question for the Times' editors is this: is the proliferation of 2016 horse-race stories in the best interest of public education and timely news reporting?
Cornflower Rhys (Washington, DC)
Vote as if the health insurance of millions depends on it, maybe even your own, because it does depend on the outcome of the 2016 elections. Don't lose sight of that.
James (St. Paul, MN.)
If the author's presumptions are correct: i.e., a capable campaign staff is far more important than the actual leadership skills, beliefs and philosophy of the candidate, then democracy is truly dead in America. I have long suspected as much, but this is confirmation of something that increasingly will not end well or truly serve the voters of our country. When enough people actually understand who has been served by the system (corporate interests, the eternal war-making machine, big healthcare, big oil, government contractors----pretty much everybody but normal working class stiffs), a second American revolution will be the sad but inevitable remedy. I sincerely hope I don't live long enough to see what horrors that would bring.
Obama's election was clear evidence that a brilliant candidate with an exceptionally talented crew behind him was much more important than his own leaderships skills, experience, etc. Consider that after he lost his democratic majority (the strong crew behind him once he took office), he struggled and stumbled mightily.
phil morse (cambridge)
Democracy isn't dead yet? Where have you been for the last 30 years?
CK (Rye)
People have been saying "democracy is dead in America" for 200 years. Thinking that the times you live in are full of new states of affairs, and that you are the one to notice them, is run of the mill solipsism. The sky is falling, the end is near, etc., sure. Carry on.
rjb_boston (boston)
Rand Paul may actually be whether we like it or not the only authentic candidate in the race, declared or undeclared. The republicans and democrats are creatures of an increasingly broken system.
Mike Smith (TX)
What is your perceived meaning of authentic, may I ask?
Mike Smith (TX)
"...whether we like it or not." Please don't speak for us, we are as capable to discern thank you.
Rand Paul walks right up to conventional boundaries, punches holes in them and steps through them. There is no candidate who has the audacity to this.

He talks about things that no other republican has the guts to and that democrats should be.