Ron Paul, father of Rand Paul, has always been an original thinker.
As a longtime member of Congress from Texas, on paper a Republican but in posture a Libertarian, Congressman Paul rarely met a spending bill he could like. He was an avowed isolationist and civil libertarian, voting against the Iraq War and the USA Patriot Act. His nickname on Capitol Hill was “Dr. No.”
Now his son, Senator Paul (R) of Kentucky, is following in his footsteps – sort of. He’s more “libertarian-leaning” than big-L Libertarian. He’s a physician like his dad, but no one confuses him with Dr. No.
When Paul launches his presidential campaign Tuesday at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky., his father will be there. But his presence will reflect an uneasy reality for the freshman senator: The junior Paul needs his dad, and a similar devotion of core supporters, even as he needs to create some distance from him.
A big challenge for Paul in selling himself to Republican voters is his noninterventionist approach on foreign policy. The 2016 race could end up being dominated by security concerns, given the rise of the Islamic State and the Iran nuclear challenge. By the morning of his announcement day, Paul had yet to react publicly to the Obama administration’s nuclear framework accord with Iran. But one group didn’t hesitate to use an old Paul statement on Iran to attack him.
“Obviously, national security and foreign policy are going to be tricky for Rand Paul,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “If they are high on voter and donor interest, he’ll have a hard time gaining traction.”