And So It Begins: An Analysis of Potential GOP 2016 Candidates

As CPAC is quickly approaching, I have decided to focus the next few articles on potential GOP Presidential candidates. I hope to highlight one candidate per article, along with potential strengths and weaknesses, stances on certain issues, and an overall analysis.

The first candidate I would like to highlight has been the CPAC straw poll winner for the past two years: Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul.

 Rand Paul 1

Why you may be familiar with the name Rand Paul:

One of the things that got Senator Paul a lot of attention was his 13 hour longfilibuster. He is also the son of former presidential candidate, Ron Paul.

Here is what I have gathered about some of his stances on popular issues:

Abortion:

Rand Paul is pro-life. Like many other GOP potential candidates, Paul believes that life begins at conception. He even introduced S. 583 in 2013 which would, “extend the Constitutional protection of life to the unborn from the time of conception” Rand Paul, Official Website

Drugs:

According to The Washington Post, he has said that he does not support legalizing illegal drugs, but does support lessening the penalties for using illegal drugs.

Gun Control:

“Gun control laws only restrict access to responsible gun ownership… I do not support any proposed gun control law which would limit the right to gun ownership by those who are responsible, law-abiding citizens” Rand Paul, Official Website

Same-Sex Marriage:

While Paul has stated that he is a traditionalist, and therefore believes that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, he also stated in a CNN interview, “I don’t really think the government needs to be too involved with this, and I think that the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue.”

Immigration:

According to Rand Paul’s official website, Rand does not support amnesty, but does support legal immigration. In an interview with The Hill,

Analysis with political guru, Spencer Brown:

How will Rand do in the primaries?

Rand will have to prove that he is not his dad in order to get acceptance from the establishment. One big advantage that he has is that he has all of the excitement and political operatives from his dad’s campaign that are still eager to have someone more libertarian run. The experience that I’ve seen with them is that they are really strong at getting out to caucuses and conventions, but they are not very great with the follow-through throughout the rest of the campaign cycle. I saw that in MN when Rand endorsed a US Senate candidate, and then all of those Rand Paul/Ron Paul fans were out and made sure that the candidate won the Republican nomination. But after that, they just disappeared and then their candidate ended up losing pretty massively.

What groups will he struggle with reaching out to the most?

This depends on how libertarian he decides to position himself. He will have a hard time with the establishment. The older generation will probably be less supportive, as ideologically, he aligns more with young people. He also probably won’t do well with social conservatives.

What groups will he succeed with reaching out to the most?

The young people will be his strength because they are ideologically similar.

What are some of Rand Paul’s strengths?

There is a huge stand with Rand crowd at CPAC every year and he has the ability to rile up people. Having the youth is a big deal because that is a key demographic, but that is not going to win the general election. He is going to have to make sure that he positions himself in a way that he still wins the youth vote that are more liberal and still keeps the older more conservative voters on his side. I think this is going to be a big problem in the caucuses because primarily, caucuses are attended by older generations, and young people are less involved at that level of politics.

What are some of Rand Paul’s weaknesses?

I would say foreign policy because a lot of the positions that he has taken or espoused have come under fire just as events have gone on around the world. We’ve seen that the United States is still very involved around the world and a lot of Americans support helping defeat ISIS and protecting Christians in Egypt and other groups that are being persecuted by ISIS. Then, you also have with Russia. We were not really there in that situation so the results have been pretty messy. So, it doesn’t help right now to be a proponent for less intervention when a lot of Americans think that we need to be doing something to help over there.

Does he have enough experience in an elected office or in another realm of leadership that would lead to him being an effective president?

He does not have a lot of the executive experience, but being in the Senate definitely gives him a lot of experience with law making and procedure, and a lot of relationships that are important. But, I’m not sure if he has really used those relationships as far as working together because as we saw when he filibustered, he was pretty much alone up there. The chairman of the RNC kind of had to tweet and call for everybody to go and help him out. Rand Paul definitely knows how to drum up support from certain groups, it will just depend on how he can temper those opinions in order to win over the most people.

Follow Rebekah Swieringa on Twitter at @PonderTheRandom.

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