What went wrong with Rand Paul?

What happened to Rand Paul? He has run a bad campaign, especially from an ideological perspective. Conservatives have never been especially fond of libertarian-leaning Republicans to begin with and Paul seemed eager to show time and again that he wasn’t, well, that libertarian. Sure, he had called the GOP “stale and moss-covered” and even reached out to ethnic minorities, but once he started aiming at the presidency, he’s rarely missed an opportunity to jump on every conservative outrage of the day: Sanctuary cities, ebola quarantines, Planned Parenthood, the Iran deal, you name it.

The guy who counseled—at the war-crazy Heritage Foundation, no less—that the U.S. should give peace a chance overseas was suddenly talking about bombing the Middle East and waging war against ISIS and banning refugees and ending visas for people from countries with “a jihadist movement,” a term of art that covers essentially all of Europe these days. After this summer’s shooting in Chattanooga, he called for the sort of profiling program he had once rejected as intrusive and ineffective.

The result was that Paul went from being what Time called “the most interesting man in politics” to sounding like most of the other windbags running for the GOP nomination. He abandoned exactly what had brought him attention at exactly the wrong time. And by fixating on the 2016 presidential race, he may well be undercutting the long fight he needs to wage within the Republican Party to win hearts and minds to the cause of smaller government across the board.

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