But even as Paul seeks to persuade the GOP establishment that his views on fiscal policy are increasingly within the mainstream of the GOP, he remains at odds with defense hawks, and pro-Israel advocates. American Enterprise scholar Frederick Kagan called Paul’s foreign policy speech at Heritage a “more artful” defense of Obama’s foreign policy than the president has ever made himself.

Paul’s hoping that his close relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will pay dividends as he tries to broaden his appeal within the party. He’s given McConnell cover from a tea-party challenge to his right, while McConnell has praised his record and advised him on legislative strategy. It’s a win-win arrangement that gives Paul significant credibility with the establishment as he raises his profile.

“We’ve had, harkening back to the very early days of Rand Paul’s campaign, … a lot of people pushing back very hard until they figured it wasn’t beneficial for them to do that any more,” Adams said.