Rand Paul - Nationwide

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul isn’t running for reelection this year. Nor will he be running in 2014. In fact, he’s got a full four years left before he has to worry about securing a second term in the upper chamber. So what has him spending so much time out on the trail and raising millions of dollars from supporters? Obviously, as a high profile figure in politics with a lot of popularity, he’s a natural choice to act as a surrogate for the Romney – Ryan team. But there are some who seem to feel he’s looking little further down the road than next month.

For Rand Paul, campaign season is just getting started.

Less than a month before the end of the 2012 election, the first-term Kentucky senator is embarking on his most vigorous effort yet to expand his national profile…

When Paul’s leadership PAC reports its fundraising haul later this month, a Paul strategist said RAND PAC will have over $1 million in the bank. Paul intends to put that hefty sum to active use: the TV ads he has begun to air bolster congressional efforts to block foreign aid to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan…

If all that sounds like the maneuvering of a man who hopes to run for president in 2016 or beyond, Paul and his advisers don’t rule out that possibility. But, they say, Paul’s increased national presence — and especially the TV campaign from his PAC — have more to do with his passionate opposition to gratuitous overseas spending than any long-term political goal.

I love a good political parlor game as much as the next person, but this one seems a bit ill founded, as well as vastly premature. I have little doubt that the idea of eventually running for President has at least crossed Paul’s mind, but that’s hardly the only thing that gets politicians up out of their chairs. Paul is in a good position to act on behalf of Republicans running in close Senate races as well as the top of the ticket and, one might argue, has a certain responsibility to do so. Also, as the Politico article admits, he’s out there pushing some policy ideas which are not exactly in line with a lot of mainstream GOP thinking. Trying to make that into a push for the party’s nomination is a bit of a stretch at best.

But what of those positions? Paul may not be quite as much of an isolationist as (*cough*) some of us… but he’s certainly not shy when it comes to holding other governments responsible for their actions. Why are we still sending money to Egypt, Syria and Pakistan? (Okay, I know the arguments about Pakistan, given their arsenal, but still… ) And while it’s true that the total amount of foreign aid we send off shore doesn’t add up to a very significant percentage of the total budget, you know the old saying. A million dollars here, a million dollars there… pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Rand Paul continues to make a name for himself, and he’s clearly not shy about stepping on a few toes along the way. What’s his long game? Nobody knows at this point but the Senator himself. But I’d wager that some of the choices he’s mulling will depend on what happens next month.

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