But when he’s shaking hands and posing for photos—a time-consuming necessity of running for president that is particularly essential in New Hampshire—Paul often comes across as a bit aloof, especially in comparison to many of his fellow 2016 GOP contenders.
It’s a limitation that his political team sees as a strength.
“He’s not a back-slapper, but that doesn’t mean you don’t like talking to people,” said Paul’s top political adviser, Doug Stafford, who accompanied the senator during a multi-stop swing through southern New Hampshire on Wednesday. “There are a lot of times politicians come into a state and they do two speeches from a stage, they take a few pictures on the rope line and they’re gone. And yet, they somehow ‘enjoy retail politics.’ He probably talked to 200 people today one to one.”
Indeed, Paul almost always stays in the room until the last person who wants to talk to him has a chance to do so—journalists included. In this respect, his tact has been somewhat reminiscent of the free-wheeling style that John McCain carried to a surprising 19-point victory over George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary—a campaign that remains to this day Exhibit A for how to run effectively in the Granite State.