Sources close to Senator Rand Paul tell National Review Online that Paul and Mitt Romney had a private meeting on Wednesday. Details of the topics discussed are hazy, but Paul — the son of Texas congressman (and presidential candidate) Ron Paul — reportedly found the meeting productive.
The one-on-one conversation in the nation’s capital lasted 30 minutes. Sources say the tone was cordial but it wasn’t meant to be an exchange of pleasantries. The Kentucky Republican focused his questions on policy.
Rand won’t abandon his dad while he still technically has a chance at the nomination, but that problem should be solved on Tuesday when Texas finally puts Mitt over the top. As for what questions he might have had for Romney on policy, Politico had a sneak peek a few days ago:
Paul campaign leaders have been in discussions with representatives from both the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee. They earlier consented to a joint fundraising arrangement between the RNC and Romney.
Recently those conversations have focused almost entirely on potential changes to the party platform. Practically Romney must ascent [sic] to what’s in the platform, since his forces will have enough votes to control what comes up for a vote…
Paul wants platform provisions that call for prohibiting indefinite detention, protecting internet freedom and limiting the power of the Federal Reserve. There are other items on his wish list, but those are priorities.
The last two shouldn’t pose much of a problem but the first will be a heavy lift. I assume that another part of this deal will be to let one of the Pauls speak in a plum convention slot — probably Rand, I’d guess, rather than Ron simply because Rand has a future in the GOP and therefore has more to lose if he strays off-script and starts inveighing against our “one-party system,” etc. He’s been surprisingly complimentary of Romney lately, in fact, so he might well be able to manage pushing Paulworld’s agenda while cheerleading for Mitt in the same speech.
Here’s the real question: Does Rand pose enough of a long-term risk to Romney that President Mitt will have to bring him onboard somehow? NPR’s already fantasizing about a 2016 primary challenge:
A run even — and, perhaps, especially — if Romney is the incumbent president. It’s a scenario that the younger Paul, 49, a Tea Party favorite, has not tamped down.
“Sounds like a good question to have no comment on for me,” he said, grinning, at a recent Cato Institute forum, when asked directly by the moderator about whether he’d challenge a potential President Romney four years from now…
“Since the Republican Party is the vehicle through which this action is happening now, it’s probably better if Romney wins [this year] and is as bad as the libertarians expect him to be,” Brian Doherty, senior editor of the libertarian Reason magazine, said recently at a Cato event to promote his book, Ron Paul’s rEVOLution.
That scenario, Doherty argued, would allow a “convincing primary challenger to make very real to the party that there are two wings to the party fighting for supremacy — the Romney wing vs. the Paul wing.”
If NPR can see that coming then surely Romneyworld can too, which makes me wonder if Mitt will attempt to follow Obama’s lead with Hillary by offering his would-be nemesis some sort of administration position. Problem is, Rand Paul has held political office for all of two years and his expertise is in ophthalmology. You’re not going to make him Treasury secretary or Fed chairman. What could Romney offer him to keep him inside the tent? Anything?
Here he is from a few days ago making the case for Mitt. Skip ahead to 3:05. As I said, surprisingly complimentary.