Last week we noted that if Rand Paul wanted to be a serious presidential contender as opposed to a libertarian gadfly he was going to have to distance himself from his father’s extreme anti-Israel views. No one should be holding their breath waiting for the Kentucky senator to speak a word against Ron Paul, but there’s no question he is preparing to cast himself as a different kind of candidate in 2016. To that end, not only did he take the trouble to engage in an exchange with COMMENTARY about his views on Israel, but as Business Insider reported last week, he is also planning a trip to the Jewish state next month.
Trips to Israel by senators and members of Congress are so common that they are hardly newsworthy. But for a devoted opponent of military aid to the Jewish state to be journeying there for the first time is a clear sign that Rand Paul wants to be seen as someone whose views on foreign policy are not the sort of grab bag of libertarian cant and isolationism that characterizes his father’s stance. Even more telling is that Paul will be accompanied on his trip by a group of evangelical leaders. The signal being given here is that the senator wants to be seen by the Republican base as a mainstream conservative and not a libertarian outlier.
Given his opposition to military assistance and his worldview that calls for a weaker U.S. presence in the world, that won’t be easy. But the trip to Israel and Jordan is a start. But the outreach here isn’t to AIPAC and its donors, who rightly regard the younger Paul as just a more presentable version of a father who remains an implacable foe of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
Rand Paul doesn't want to blow up enough Palestinians, and this is why he has zero chance in 2016. "Why should we give foreign aid to Israel or anybody?" may play well in Bracken County, Kentucky, but it sure as hell is going to be a major problem in states like battleground states like Florida and Virginia, and his "cut military spending" rhetoric sure as hell won't play in deep red states.
But it's his anti-Israel stuff that guarantees he'll be sunk in the primaries long before the other guys. The big donors will turn their backs on him, and he'll be drowned in negative ads just like his dad. Hell, it might be bad enough to cost him his Senate seat.
A guy can hope, right?