Marco Rubio: A Demographic on Steroids

May 14, 2015

Senator Marco Rubio spoke for the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday, staking out his position as the GOP super hawk, announcing that he would not be afraid to go to war.  Presumably, he will have to compete with Senator Lindsey Graham for that role.  And they both will have to find a suitable target.

Recent polls show him climbing.  A Quinnipiac Poll has him tied with Rand Paul for second place in Iowa, behind Scott Walker.  And a recent Bloomberg poll has him second only to Rand Paul in New Hampshire.

He is a fascinating candidate popular with the media.  I call him a “demographic on steroids.”

First, he is Hispanic and that is the wave of the future for this country.

Second, he is from Florida, a key battleground, must win, state for any Republican.

Third, he is a Roman Catholic, with an LDS heritage, who regularly attends a Baptist church.  Believe me, that is a highly evolved creature perfectly fitted for a modern, GOP primary process in an age of the Fox News Channel.

And finally, although he is young, he is the insider, big business, Wall Street, money alternative to Jeb Bush.  In fact, Rubio’s people are right now telling donors that a dollar given to Jeb Bush is a dollar given to Hillary Clinton since Bush will never win a head to head contest with her.  The national media and major corporations will never allow three of the last five presidents to come from the same immediate family.  Bush, we are told, is only insurance in case Hillary slips.

These above are the four major positives of a Marco Rubio candidacy.  But he has one major negative.

Marco Rubio, like most of the other candidates in this race, has no raison d’etre.  There is no purpose in his candidacy other than naked ambition.  For too many candidates in this race it is all about them and not the voter.  Hillary Clinton says, “Vote for me I am a woman.”  Marco Rubio says, “Vote for me I am Hispanic.”  Even Scott Walker’s argument says nothing about what he would do.  Walker says, “Vote for me I am a governor.  I know how to be an administrator.”  It is meant to contrast the ineptitude of the current president.

But being a governor is a pretty empty argument.  Jimmy Carter was a governor.  If you know how to run things well and you take the country in the wrong direction you will only get us there quicker.  The missing piece is the direction.  Where are you taking us?  Why should we vote for you?

This may be why Senator Rand Paul is now leading these early swing state and battleground state polls.  He is a fount of ideas.  Young people have a reason to vote for him.  African Americans have a reason to vote for him.  Born again Christians have a reason to vote for him.  Waitresses have a reason to vote for him.  He doesn’t just raise the defense budget, he shows how he will do it while balancing the budget.

Marco Rubio needs a popular purpose to his campaign, something more than protecting insiders who are gaming the system, something with appeal to the masses.  Their are signs that he is trying to develop that.  He is using the word “conservative” a lot these days but an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations  is not the best place to make that argument.  As a candidate, he will have to come up with at least one cut in spending to justify the label.  Something he hasn’t yet been able to do.  Watch for him to distinguish himself in the debates.  Not with flash but by avoiding  self mutilation.  And see how his money helps him survive the early crush of negative ads.

Finally Marco Rubio must convince Jeb Bush to drop out of the race and quickly.  Otherwise he is locked into a huge battle in Florida.  The GOP is not likely to nominate a candidate to contest Hillary Clinton if he can’t carry his own home state in a GOP primary.   The same goes for Jeb Bush.  The two will be locked into a death struggle in Florida, like the Russo-German front in World War Two.   This drains money away from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.  They could conceivably win some of those contests and still lose Florida and get knocked out.

But then, last month Jeb Bush was beating Marco Rubio.

Most bets are that Marco Rubio will not go away early.  If he doesn’t win himself he will likely be asked onto the ticket by the winner.  Either way, Marco Rubio will be around for a long time.


The difference between Rand Paul and Ted Cruz

March 25, 2015

So what’s the difference between presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz?

Ted Cruz is running against Barack Obama.  Rand Paul is running against Hillary Clinton.  One represents the past.  The other represents the future.

Both men are U.S. Senators running for president in 2016.  Rand Paul is from Kentucky, Ted Cruz is from Texas. (Rand Paul is expected to announce on April 7, 2015.)

Both men are conservatives whose careers were launched during the rise of the Tea Party.  Both are born again Christians. And both signed the controversial Senate letter supporting Israel.  So if they have the same base of support, what’s the difference?

Rand Paul excites that base and motivates them to action.  Ted Cruz has all but given up on that base and is focusing exclusively and only on born again Christians.  He is betting that he will take that vote, and only that vote, and win it all.  It is a high stakes gamble that counts on driving out of the way born again Christians such as Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and yes even Rand Paul.

Bottom line, Rand Paul can win a national election.  Ted Cruz cannot.  Early polling bears that out.  Polls can be fickle and don’t always reflect reality this far in advance but most polls show only Rand Paul close to Hillary Clinton in any of the battleground states.  Not Bush, Christie, Rubio, Perry, Huckabee and not Cruz.

There is more bad news. Ted Cruz, like Rand Paul, once championed the cause of the growing Libertarian wing of the GOP, taking on the corruption of the free enterprise system with its corporate welfare and calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve.  Now Libertarians charge that after arriving in the U.S. Senate Ted Cruz sold out fast and cheaply.  It seems that his wife was hired by Goldman Sachs.  It is the banking firm that has become the poster child for insider, establishment, power. Goldman Sachs was the major donor to both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the last election.

The day after announcing for president, Ted Cruz openly attacked Goldman Sachs and said his wife would take a leave of absence from her job to help on his campaign but the damage was done.  Whatever hope Ted Cruz had to lead the Libertarian Wing of the Republican Party is now dead.  “Mrs. Cruz,” a Libertarian leader told me, “Is the Claire Underwood of this campaign cycle.”  She will leave behind Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law who works for the same Goldman Sachs firm.

Meanwhile, the Ted Cruz announcement brought fierce reaction from Hispanics who see the Senator as having betrayed his own roots.  “His family got their freedom,” said one Hispanic evangelical leader, “Now they want everybody else to do it strictly by the book.”

Rand Paul has real, organic support from the young, from Hispanics from African Americans and from Liberal Democrats.  The latter care about civil liberties.  African Americans care about Rand Paul’s criminal justice reform.  Many Hispanics who support Paul care about insiders gaming the system and the loss of the American dream for the new American.  Under both Democrat and Republican presidents the poor continue to get poorer and the rich richer.  The young now see “free markets” as “fixed” by advantages created by powerful lobbies.  The young care about a free Internet and Rand Paul has become the guardian of the Internet.

The Ted Cruz presidential launch at Liberty University last Monday may have been a metaphor for the coming campaign.  Cruz, who cannot attract the crowds of a Rand Paul, choose the only forum that could guarantee a large audience, a university convocation with mandatory student attendance.  Nevertheless, sitting very visibly behind the Senator, in their red shirts declaring, “Stand with Rand”, were quietly defiant students.  They were not rude like the Libertarians one sometimes sees online.  They represent the new Christian Liberty Movement. This week RandPac will mail out thousands of their videos with Senator Rand Paul’s born again testimony.

The Cruz machine was careful to point to spectacular fund raising after his event.  It was a calculated attempt to shore up a very real weakness.  “Evangelical only” candidates cannot raise money.  Ask Mike Huckabee.  Christian leaders will give verbal support but they need their people’s money for their own projects.  Sorry.  Meanwhile, Rand Paul with his diverse, motivated base will have money and a ground game.

The message is clear for Ted Cruz.  His path is fatally blocked by those young people in the red shirts standing before him.  They can be made to hear him speak but they will get to vote the way they want.

Here is the video produced by the American Liberty Association, going out this week.


The Difference between Rand Paul and Ron Paul

February 25, 2015
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      Rand Paul is the U.S. Senator from Kentucky who is favored by many to win the 2016 Republican nomination for president.  He appeals to a broad range of constituents from the Tea Party to Evangelical Christians, African Americans, Gays, Independents and Democrats concerned about Civil Liberties.  He has picked up the Civil Rights torch and now leads the most active effort to reform criminal justice.  His father, Ron Paul, was a U.S. Congressman from Texas, who ran for president three times.
      Here’s how they differ.
      The father, congressman, Ron Paul, is a classic Libertarian.
      The son, Senator, Rand Paul, is a practical Libertarian.
      The father believes in the personal freedom of the individual.  The son recognizes that there are times when the needs of the wider community must be considered. For example, the father would allow local communities to decide for themselves about legalizing marijuana. The son agrees but openly favors laws against marijuana – for the greater good.
      In foreign policy there is a big difference.  Both men believe that the nation should not go to war without congressional approval.  They both believe it is a mistake for Congress to forfeit war making powers to the president alone.  Both men believe that the United States should not assume the role of policeman of the world.  But the difference is in degrees.  And it is huge.  The father, Ron Paul, would prefer that American stay out of everybody else’s business.  For example, he does not see Iran as a threat to American security.  In an ideal world, Senator Rand Paul would agree but in a world of terrorism and nuclear weapons he sees genuine danger.
      Rand Paul sees Israel as one of America’s most important allies.
      The best example of a Rand Paul foreign policy would be that of former President Ronald Reagan.  For Reagan, the security of the United States was the paramount concern and thus his focus was on the Soviet Union and the threat it posed.  Reagan’s wars were always proxy wars against the Soviets.  For example, Reagan did not go after Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, the man who killed half of his own people in a nationwide genocide.  Reagan did not go after Idi Amin, who had slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Africa and had just been driven from office when Reagan arrived in the White House.  Both of these despotic leaders, left untouched by Reagan, were far more evil than Saddam Hussein.
      When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 and it resulted in the death of 241 marines, he withdrew our forces.  He decided that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the intractable problems of the Middle East.  How wise that seems in retrospect.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul has refused to support the endless calls for international adventures from his colleagues in the Senate. And yet, when the ISIS threat emerged Paul had razor sharp focus.  He was the first public figure to call for a declaration of war.  He saw ISIS as a threat to America’s national security.
      Both men, father and son, would like to see Foreign Aid reformed. Both men believe that the process has become corrupted. The father, Ron Paul, would eliminate it immediately. “Why should we borrow money from China and give it to Pakistan?” he asks.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul would move to end the corruption in Foreign Aid, where money really comes back to American lobbyists and their interests, but would see even that process of reform as an ongoing process.  He would start by ending aid to countries that allow the killing of Christians simply because of their religion. Or persecute women.  He would end aid that is going to terrorists groups that target Americans and Jews, such as Palestinian aid now being passed through to the terrorist group Hamas.
      Perhaps the most striking issue associated with Senator Paul has been his call for reform in criminal justice. He favors strict incarceration of violent criminals but is appalled by the unfair application of the law which allows for young African Americans to be disproportionately sentenced for the same drug related crimes as white youth.  Rand Paul sees this as unjust.
      Then there is the Federal Reserve and the study by UC Berkeley where the rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer.  He would like to see us return to free markets, away from corporate competition to game the system by upping their government subsidies and upping their money supply from the FED.  Let in more of the natural forces of supply and demand.  Let the 99% have a chance to play.
      Finally, there is style.  The father was a great provocateur and a born teacher.  The son is a superb politician, a natural pleaser.
      Here is a CBS report on the Rand Paul balancing act.

What’s with Rand Paul’s blue jeans?

February 2, 2015

Doug Wead on Neil Cavuto, February 2, 2015.


Rand Paul defends Houston pastors under attack

October 15, 2014

“No minister, anywhere, should ever have to submit a sermon to a government censor.” – Senator Rand Paul

Only minutes ago, Senator Rand Paul spoke up for the Houston pastors who have become the latest target in what religious leaders say is the city government’s ongoing war against its own churches.  Messaging on Twitter, Senator Paul declared, “The First Amendment doesn’t exist to keep religion out of government.  It exists to keep government out of religion.”  Said Paul, “I stand with the pastors and churches in Houston against government interference and harassment.”

Houston city attorneys, under the direction of Mayor Annise Parker,  have now subpoenaed sermons preached by selected pastors whom they believe are opposed to the city’s new agenda.

Here is a quick review of the unfolding drama in Houston.

Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly Lesbian mayor of a major city, promoted an ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination in the public and government subsidized venues.  So far so good.  But a controversial part of the ordnance allowed transgender citizens to file discrimination lawsuits if prohibited from a restroom.  Was this a problem?  Where there signs up saying, “No transgenders allowed?”  Some Christian leaders now caught in the middle of the controversy contend that this was an angry politician, purposely poking the bear.

There were all kinds of discussions in the community.  Who was to determine who was transgender and who was not?  A doctor?  A psychiatrist?  Could a man suddenly declare himself a woman and enter a woman’s restroom?  With under age children?

As the proponents of the ordinance hoped, the churches reacted with confusion and panic.  There was a recall effort launched to get the ordinance on the ballot.  The churches gathered more than 50,000 signatures.  It was well over the 17,269 needed.  And then the city poked again.  The Houston city attorney declared that there were insufficient signatures.

The churches sued.

The city attorneys issued subpoenas for their sermons.  And not sermons from the churches who filed the lawsuit.  No, they wanted sermons from other pastors whom critics suspect were specifically targeted because they posed the biggest threat to the city’s agenda.  The subpoena called for “all  speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by delivered by, revised by or approved by you or in your possession.”

Concerned Christian leaders insist that this is not a comedy of errors, that it is not a mistake but it is a systematic, purposeful attempt to silence and frighten the churches into changing their doctrines and suborning free speech.  The city attorney’s will use taxpayer’s money to bankrupt the churches and silence their political voices.  Thus the decision to go after the selected churches who were not even involved in the lawsuit with the city.  It was much the same tactic that allowed the gay and lesbian takeover of the Episcopal Church, taking some congregations and using their resources to take over others.   Only this time it is acted out in the public square with public money which will now be used to destroy the churches and silence their voices.

The city has deep pockets.  In fact, the churchgoers, paying their taxes, will ironically finance the city of Houston in its war to destroy their own culture.

The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and other Liberal groups expressed alarm at the city’s overreach. Meanwhile, Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission expressed sadness at the events and astonishment at the “audacity” of the Houston City government’s attack on its own pastors and congregations.

Coincidentally, the day before the Houston subpoenas, Moore held a private meeting with Senator Rand Paul at the Senator’s office in Washington, D.C.  Part of the conversation was about the war on Christianity unfolding in places around the world.  Who would know what the next volley would be fired by the city government of Houston, Texas?


Romney Redux

September 11, 2014

Will former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, run for president again?  And if he does could he win?  Has it happened before?

Mitt Romney has allowed his friends to test the waters for another presidential run and with good reason.

1.) Obama is fading fast.  He might as well have a sign on his desk, “The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here.”

2.) Romney knows what to do.  He has already run for president twice.

3.) He co-opted the GOP caucus-primary system last time, making it Romney friendly.

4.) Just in case, he also strong-armed the last Republican National Convention and re-wrote the rules in his favor so he can actually lose in some key primaries and still overwhelm the vote and control the floor at the RNC.  All he will need is a simple majority.

Has it happened before?  Can a candidate run for president and lose and come back to win later?

Answer?  Most presidents do.  Barack Obama being the anomaly.  In recent years, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, all ran for president and lost before finally winning.

But has a presidential candidate actually won the nomination, ran for president, lost, and then comeback?

Yep.  Three come to mind.  William Henry Harrison ran as a Whig nominee in 1836.  He lost but came back to win in 1840 and went on to the White House.

Grover Cleveland was elected president in 1884, lost his re-election bid but came back to win again in 1892.

And finally, Richard Nixon won the GOP nomination in 1960, losing to John F. Kennedy in the general election.  He came back in 1968 to try again and this time won the presidency.

But all three of these examples are very complicated.  Nixon, for example, after losing the presidency, ran for governor of California where he was defeated again.  That defeat seemed to end his public career.  In 1964 the GOP experienced its conservative takeover and Barry Goldwater won the nomination.  Many GOP leaders sat at home.  Nixon jumped into the 1964 election and helped Republican candidates, seeking nothing for himself.  With his own career apparently over, he was seen as a non threatening, beloved figure and a great fundraiser.  By 1968, the GOP wanted a winner and it united behind Nixon.

Romney is reminiscent of Thomas Dewey.  He looks like a president, the few Republicans who are part of the media elite think he ought to be president but he won’t even cross the street to shake hands with the people who can make it happen.  Romney recently described how he would run again.  If the other candidates all came to him and said, “We just can’t do it we need you.”  Fat chance.

In 2012 Romney, a Mormon, was urged to meet with Evangelical Christian leaders.  Didn’t happen.  No time.  Gallup Polls show that 41% of the American public claim to be born again Christians. and they are the base of the Republican Party.  Romney took comfort from his Boston-Washington cronies and ignored them.  He publicly laughed at the emerging Libertarian wing of the GOP and shut down their efforts to participate in state conventions.  Nor did Catholics fair any better.  He had plain clothes security guards surround Hispanics on the floor of the RNC and rush them out of the building because they held up signs of other candidates.

Polls don’t mean a lot this early.  Some of it is only name recognition.  Romney was the last GOP nominee.  Voters were forced to choose between he and Obama in the last election.  Of much more significance is the recent Zogby poll which had Rand Paul running away with the GOP nomination, rather startling for an outsider, this early.  And polls showing Rand Paul as the only GOP candidate beating Hillary Clinton in battleground states.  But polls, even this early, can translate into money.  Which brings up the point that Romney, unlike most of the other candidates, has money.

So if Mitt Romney runs again what are his chances?  If he runs the same kind of exclusive, white, Mormon, campaign, don’t be surprised if he gets the same kind of result.  Winning campaigns like Obama, Clinton, Reagan, give the masses a sense of ownership.  People feel a part of what has happened.  They feel needed and included, not shutout or ridiculed.  Reagan appealed to White Mormon men in the Mountain states, Southern born again Christians in North Carolina, Catholic, Democrat, union factory workers in Detroit, Michigan and highly educated Jews in Shaker Heights, Ohio.  But he worked those constituencies humbly and earnestly.  I remember sitting with Reagan in a waiting room, anticipating a meeting with a pompous evangelical leader.  I have done the same with George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Can he win?  History shows that it can happen.  But it also shows that it will be difficult.

 


Why Rand Paul can beat Hillary Clinton

March 9, 2014

March 9, 2014

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky may be the only Republican who can beat Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.  He is the only Republican who beats her head to head in battleground states.

Paul decisively won last Saturday’s CPAC straw poll with 31%, his neo-Libertarian sidekick, Senator Ted Cruz, was second at 11%.  Jeb Bush and the Karl Rove faction of the party registered 1%.  According to a recent column in The Washington Post, Rand Paul is now leading the Republican field.  This is showing up in some recent presidential preference polls. It is puzzling to many political pundits.
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Polls don’t usually mean much this early in an election cycle. It’s usually all about name recognition. Former Secretary of State and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton obviously leads among Democrats, with Vice President Joe Biden trailing far behind.  In the GOP contest, former Governor and FOX television star, Mike Huckabee polls well, so does former governor Jeb Bush and so does former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.  All the other candidates who ran for president last time register small numbers too.  But why Rand Paul?
Yes, his father, former congressman, Ron Paul, ran for president three times but in a career that spanned a whole generation he never led the GOP in a national poll. 

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Part of the reason lies in the fact that, if he wins the nomination, Senator Rand Paul will be the first GOP nominee since Ronald Reagan to lead a political Movement.  In this case, the “Constitutional Movement”, which includes conservatives, libertarians and others across the whole left to right spectrum. In fact, it represents more than a movement it represents a new political re-alignment, the first of its kind in several generations.  
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During most of our lifetime the debate was about the role of government in the lives of the people.  Liberals wanted a “liberal” use of government involvement, conservatives wanted a “conservative” use of government, relying more on free markets.  But the point of reference was always the role of government in meeting peoples needs, it was in relation to that point that one was liberal or conservative.
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The U.S. Constitution was a factor, but mostly over the issue of the Second Amendment and in understanding the politics of the Cold War where conservatives were actually more liberal about spending for defense and liberals more conservative.  Conservatives said providing a common national defense is Constitutional. Liberals said all of this military spending was robbing the poor of this country and hurting our own people.
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Liberals accused conservatives about not caring for the poor.  Conservatives accused liberals about being soft on communism and flirting with national destruction.
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In the past, candidates were touted as liberal or conservative but only Reagan and Goldwater were considered to be actual leaders of an ideological Movement than transcended their party.  Liberal Movement leaders?  FDR?  Later, Adlai Stevenson?  Hubert Humphrey?  Maybe?  But not really.  All were successful politicians but too involved in the Democrat Party process to have the ideological purity of a movement leader.
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Today the old liberal – conservative argument is almost obsolete.  The end of the Cold War has been a big factor.  There is no life and death struggle about left and right.  We have settled on a range of responsibilities that government should be able to assume and are now quibbling over details. “You said I could keep my own doctor, you’re a liar.”
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Foreign observers can hardly tell a difference between Republicans and Democrats.  It is the Red team versus the Blue team, not really much of contest over ideas. Just a contest over power between two societies. Oh, it is passionate, like all internecine conflicts. And the public is emotionally invested, like they are with their favorite college football team. They may shed real tears or not eat for days if their side loses.
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A good illustration of how irrelevant the philosophical argument has become was the recent presidency of George W. Bush.  In his last year in office, facing a worldwide depression, this Republican president nationalized American banks.  It took Socialist President Francois Mitterrand to do that in France.  And yet we call George W. Bush a “conservative Republican.” Meanwhile, liberal Democrats build no statues to him and conservatives still defend him.  It’s two teams with bitter past histories.  Liberals never applaud conservatives when they do something liberal, such as George  H.W. Bush extending the first White House invitations to Gay activists.  And conservatives never applaud a liberal, like John Kennedy or Bill Clinton, for doing something conservative, like balancing the budget
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The Constitutional Movement represents a new realignment of the political landscape.  It includes a variety of voters from the left to the right and everything in between.
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The argument is less about liberal and conservative and more about getting back to the Constitution. It is about ending corruption.  The special deals.  It is less about left and right or even, up and down, the rich and the poor, and more about in and out. Insiders are seen to be gaming the system, taxes, Wall Street, the regulatory agencies, banking.  There is great cynicism about this and even despair.  It’s as if only suckers depend on a free marketplace.  The American dream is over.
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It is not lost on many that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer on a massive scale under Barack Obama.
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While many poor people and certainly all people of color celebrate the rise of Obama, now that he is passing, some on the left are wanting to get serious about doing what they thought a person of such humble origins would do, namely, reform the system. Stop the looting.  End the cycle of corruption.
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Hillary – as a woman – represents a dynamic cultural moment and that will be hard to resist.  The media will be transfixed by the idea of a woman following an African American into the White House.  But no one seriously believes that this woman, who in 1979 miraculously turned a $1,000 commodities investment into $100,000 within ten months, is going to do anything about reversing the corrupt system that has clogged our economic arteries. She can only win a Red-Blue contest.  It will only be an argument about who gets the power and which insiders get the taxpayers’ money.
If 2016 become a contest of significant ideas on how to end the corruption Rand Paul will win.  He is the only candidate who has any.
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(Clip from 2012, when Rand Paul was stopped by the TSA.)


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