Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Welcome to the Rand Paul evolution

He’ll push to loosen marijuana penalties, legalize undocumented immigrants and pursue a less aggressive American foreign policy.

Call it the Rand Paul Evolution.

In the wake of Barack Obama’s reelection win and ahead of a possible 2016 White House bid of his own, the Kentucky Republican plans to mix his hard-line tea party conservatism with more moderate policies that could woo younger voters and minorities largely absent from the GOP coalition. It’s the latest tactic of the freshman senator to inject the Libertarian-minded views shared by his retiring father into mainstream Republican thinking as the party grapples with its future.

n an interview with POLITICO, Paul said he’ll return to Congress this week pushing measures long avoided by his party. He wants to work with liberal Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Republicans to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for pot possession. He wants to carve a compromise immigration plan with an “eventual path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a proposal he believes could be palatable to conservatives. And he believes his ideas — along with pushing for less U.S. military intervention in conflicts overseas — could help the GOP broaden its tent and appeal to crucial voting blocs that handed Democrats big wins in the West Coast, the Northeast and along the Great Lakes.

“We have three big regions where we’re not competitive,” Paul said. “And we have to be competitive in those regions.”

Paul, 49, was elected on the tea party wave that fueled GOP landslide victories in 2010, often declaring on the campaign trail that he had a “message” from the tea party: “We have come to take our government back.”

But two years later, the tea party agenda has stalled in Congress, and House Republicans who ran on that purity platform in 2010 began to tout bipartisan compromises with Democrats in 2012. Nationally, the GOP recognizes it has a demographic problem from New England to the Southwest it needs to correct ahead of the 2014 midterm elections and the next White House race in 2016.

Paul hasn’t given up on the tea party agenda; he plans to lead what he says is a national movement to help usher through a constitutional amendment limiting House members and senators to 12 years of service to “throw some of the bums out just for length of service.”

But after his first two years in elected office, few, if any of Paul’s goals on his 2010 tea party platform have gone anywhere. He wanted to force lawmakers to wait one day for every 20 pages of a bill before a vote can occur — that never saw the light of day. He wanted to make sure every bill explicitly lays out its constitutional authority — that proposal is gathering dust. Often, he finds himself on the losing end of his own party — most notably on his recent push to slash foreign aid that failed resoundingly 10-81 over fears it would have weakened national security.

Now, Paul appears to want a more influential role in his party than simply the bomb-throwing back-bencher with a penchant for grabbing headlines. Unlike his father, retiring Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who toiled on the GOP fringes for years and battled with the party establishment, the younger Paul seems to have developed political savvy in dealing with GOP leaders.

Full article: http://www.politico. … ries/1112/83737.html

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