South Carolina, the first-in-the-south, is a very important state to win in the Republican primary, so how did Kentucky Senator Rand Paul do during his recent visit? Truth In Media's Joshua Cook covered the event hosted by activist group Pints for Liberty at a local Irish pub in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.
The Good: Rand's Message
Some of Paul's stances energize millennial and liberty-minded voters, including his opposition to NSA spying, the ongoing drug war, the TPP, the militarization of America's domestic police force, as well as his advocating for reforming drug sentencing and restoring voting rights to non-violent felons.
Paul also does not spare fellow Republicans from criticism, as shown last week when he called out Republican 'War Hawks' for arming ISIS.
The Bad: Anti-RAND SuperPACs
Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie certainly look like they're running for president. They're hobnobbing in Iowa and New Hampshire, but the words "I'm running for president" have never crossed their lips.
At least not yet. Why? Because, as the Wall Street Journal points out, once those words are officially said the rules of campaigning and raising money dramatically change.
Before a candidate declares, they have the ability to personally solicit large sums of money that an announced candidate would be barred from seeking. Prior to announcing, candidates can work with their own super PACs to raise unlimited amounts of money.
And these SuperPACs are likely to go after Rand Paul in a big way, especially in Florida.
"Florida is the key to winning in 2016. It is a winner take all state, and Bush and Rubio will dominate simply because of their name and legacy. Plus, the media will give millions in free air time pitching the battle between Jeb and Rubio. Other candidates like Rand Paul will be ignored and rarely mentioned," a political consultant told Cook.
"Jeb's Super PAC will be the 'thug' part of his organization. It will do the attacking and negative ads while leaving his official campaign's hands clean."
Another consultant told Cook that "right-leaning candidates (like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul) typically announce early since they rely on grassroots turnout models in terms of whipping votes and grassroots money. This model takes more time to develop and generate results (i.e. email list building, social media traction). Moderates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio like to hold off as long as possible, since that keeps them from spending money until when it really counts. They're courting corporate money from the likes of billionaire Sheldon Adelson and don't need to waste time spending funds on grassroots excitement."
But is winning in 2016 all about raising the most money? No. One political consultant told us that "Jeb Bush is a joke and no amount of money will save Bush."
The Ugly: Will Political Elites Ruin Rand's Campaign?
Cook asked Sergio Gor, Rand Paul's communications director, if he could ask Paul a question regarding foreign policy- a key issue for many South Carolina voters. Cook was promised that he could ask Paul a question after a book signing with Senator Paul, but when it was over Cook was denied access.
The group Pints for Liberty, which hosted the event, had tallied questions from the audience to ask the Senator about illegal immigration and protecting internet freedom following his stump speech. (Real fringe questions, right?)
It appeared that 'Stand With Rand, but don't ask questions' was the recurring theme of Team Rand's grassroots strategy.
Hopefully this will change. Paul needs support from his young liberty-minded supports and shouldn't be afraid of answering real questions from real people.
Cook asked a political consultant about his thoughts on why Raul Paul refused to answer questions and chose to stick with a scripted stump speech. He answered:
"Well, overall that group (political consultants) is extremely egotistical and elitist, so they don't see anyone else's needs as being too important. At the end of the day, they're gonna do what's best for them."
"Paul's consultants are known to be shady so just always be careful when dealing with them."
One of the reasons Congressman Ron Paul was so popular during his presidential election was the genuine answers he gave. He awakened many Americans. He talked about ending the Federal Reserve and consistently rebuked neoconservatives for their foreign policy. "Yeah Rand is definitely not Ron Paul," the consultant said.
One elected represented from South Carolina who wished to remain anonymous told Cook, "Cruz reminds me more of Ron Paul than Rand. He seems more true to his convictions."
Cook interviewed S.C. Rep. Eric Beddingfield and young voters on why they support Sen. Rand Paul.
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