Rand Paul may have won the Republican primary for the Senate by using a grassroots, fresh staff, but his first week out of the blocks in the general election showed that he needs more experienced hands on deck. Since his appearance on Rachel Maddow’s MS-NBC show, his (hopefully) future Senate colleagues like Minority Leader and fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn at the NRSC have rushed to his side to help with damage control. The first moves have already been made, as Paul’s campaign manager has been demoted:
A political firestorm has followed Paul since last week, when he expressed misgivings about portions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He suggested to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that the federal government shouldn’t have the authority to force restaurant owners to serve minorities if they don’t want to.
“I think they’ve used it as an issue to try to make me into something that I’m not,” Paul, an ophthalmologist, told a friendly hometown audience at a Bowling Green civic club. “I was raised in a family that said that you judge people the same way Martin Luther King said, you judge people by their character not by the color of their skin.”
Since last week Paul has been reassessing his campaign staff. He said he expects there will be staff changes, though he declined to give details. He won the GOP nomination last week with a campaign staff made up largely of political novices and volunteers. …
Campaign manager David Adams, who had been a Republican blogger in Nicholasville before joining up, will remain but perhaps in a different role, Paul said.
Paul, who ran as a political outsider, also said he has made amends with the Republican establishment. He said he has had cordial discussions with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator.
Paul blamed Jack Conway for the controversy over the Civil Rights Act, accusing his Democratic opponent of starting the rumor that Paul wanted it repealed, which then prompted Maddow to ask about it. Left unexplained, though, was the decision to go on MS-NBC in the first place, especially with a large double-digit lead in a red state. Republican candidates running in blue or purple states may have good reason to seek guest slots on liberal talk shows in order to reach their constituencies, but how many more Kentucky voters would Paul reach on MS-NBC? Ten?
That’s the kind of strategic thinking that experienced campaign professionals bring to candidates, especially inexperienced candidates like Paul, running in his first election. Primary campaigns are much different than general election campaigns, at least in most circumstances, in both tenor of the debate and in coverage by the media. That’s doubly true in this case; Paul was treated generously by the Left in the past because Paul spent a great deal of time criticizing Republicans as well as Democrats. Now that Paul is a Republican candidate, he should have expected that to end — and shouldn’t have put himself in the position he did last week.
Getting more experienced staffers will not only help defuse the kerfuffle that Paul created, but will also keep him from making any more rookie missteps in a race Republicans should win easily this year. Fortunately, Paul has plenty of time to recover.