While there is some evidence conservatives are moving in Paul’s direction on some of these issues — a New York Times/CBS News poll found 59 percent of conservatives agreed local police forces shouldn’t have access to tanks and military-style weapons — the get-tough approach retains considerable appeal. The same poll found that more than two thirds expressed confidence in the investigation into the Michael Brown shooting. While 66 percent believe the Ferguson protests have gone too far, only 20 percent say the same about the police response.

Indeed, another 20 percent of conservatives told the New York Times/CBS News pollsters that the police response hadn’t gone far enough. Thirty-eight percent said it was just right. Inevitably, some Republicans will look at these numbers and charge Paul with being soft on crime.

The second group of Paul critics will be made up of Republicans who disagree with Paul on other issues, such as his strong fiscal conservatism or his departure from George W. Bush’s aggressive foreign policy. They will preview liberal attacks on Paul as a hypocrite on race in an effort to derail his candidacy. Put Gerson firmly in this camp.