Hawkish GOP donors to Time mag: We’ll stop Rand Paul in the primaries

posted at 3:21 pm on March 31, 2014 by Allahpundit

Nothing surprising here but the quotes are oh so tasty. Including one that comes, secondhand, from Paul himself.

Is that what the last month of Russia-bashing and Tomahawk-praising was all about? Is Rand … “evolving” on foreign policy?

The [Republican Jewish Coalition] conference brings together some of the biggest names — and wallets — in Republican politics, most notably billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. At a private dinner for VIP donors in an Adelson-owned aircraft hangar holding one of his pair of Boeing 747s, Bush was asked about the growing isolationist wing of the Republican Party and replied there was no such thing — effectively casting Paul out of the fold, according to attendees…

Rand Paul has told top GOP donors that he is “evolving” on foreign policy, particularly when it comes to his positions on Israel, according to several people who have had conversations with him. In recent months he has toned down his opposition to foreign aid — a red flag for most at the RJC — replacing it with a call to end foreign aid to countries that are unfriendly to the U.S. He has also increased his outreach to prominent pro-Israel and neoconservative thinkers and donors to show he is interested in having a dialogue. The U.S. gives more than $3 billion in foreign aid to Israel every year, almost entirely in the form of grants for Israel’s military and defense services…

On the margins of the conference, where attendees heard from four potential 2016 candidates who advocated for a strong American foreign policy and support for Israel, five donors huddled with a reporter pledged to reach into their deep pockets to ensure Paul doesn’t win the GOP nomination.

“The best thing that could happen is Ted Cruz and Rand Paul run and steal each other’s support,” says one of the donors, “but if not, we’ll be ready to take Paul down.”

Adelson is expected to spend untold millions against Paul in the primaries. Those millions didn’t help Newt stop Romney two years ago, but Romney’s team had more financial firepower than Rand’s will to fight back. Rand will try to fight back in a different way: Since his candidacy will be framed as an insurgency against the establishment, he can point to big donors on the other side as a vindication of his “me against the fatcats” populist message. How do you beam that message out to undecided low-information “somewhat conservative” voters, though, when TV and the Internet are full of “Paul will sell out Israel!” attack ads from the other side? As much as I think a Paul run will be fascinating, I worry that we’re going to end up with one of two outcomes. Either he wins the nomination despite it all and some crucial core of GOP hawks, having been convinced that he’s his father’s son on foreign policy, crosses the aisle for Hillary or he loses the nomination and his libertarian base, disgruntled over the attacks on him, decides to stay home. Makes me wonder if Rand is destined to end up on the ticket as VP even if he doesn’t win, and whether that arrangement would be acceptable to anyone. How can a guy who’ll be attacked as a new Charles Lindbergh end up one heartbeat away with the approval of his critics?

The only way to save this marriage, as I said last week, is for Rand to convince his enemies that he’d be acceptable as nominee even if they end up supporting someone else in the primaries. Sounds like that’s … not working out so far. Gulp. Here he is in a video shot two years ago and showcased this weekend by Jen Rubin warning about the perils of different approaches on Iran. Rubin treats his point near the end as Paul “blaming” the U.S. partially for World War II. I think he’s saying merely that sanctions are a form of escalation which can lead to war. If you want to knock him for something about this vid, knock him for the fact that he seems to believe (albeit without explicitly saying so) that war is the absolute worst-case nightmare scenario when it comes to Iran rather than the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran throwing its weight around the Middle East and beyond. We’ll have that debate next year, I guess.


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