Rand Paul Wraps Up in Kentucky

More

BOWLING GREEN -- Now it's up to you, Kentucky GOP voters: Rand Paul just wrapped up the last public event of his insurgent campaign for the Senate in his hometown of Bowling Green with a full-throated endorsement of the Tea Party. Tomorrow, GOP voters will decide in a closed primary whether to anoint him their Senate nominee and by extension the national face of the Tea Party movement. Surrounded by a much younger, slightly more diverse crowd than he had been earlier in the day (many of them volunteers from his campaign), and many more members of the national media, Paul reiterated the idea that the Tea Party has a mainstream message that revolves around term limits, balanced budget laws, fiscal discipline, and assorted other particulars meant to appeal to the angry and aggrieved. "There's a tidal wave coming," Paul told the crowd, "its' already gotten to Utah, and tomorrow it's coming to Kentucky."

I haven't traveled with Paul long enough to know if this is a new wrinkle in his speech, but he went out of his way to cast this race as a referendum on the Republican Party. "If we win tomorrow," he said, "it will be the first victory for a Tea Party candidate, and we will define the direction of the Republican Party."

In my talks with voters on the campaign trail today and yesterday, the idea that the Republican Party is as complicit as the Democratic Party in what ails the country is something I heard again and again. I made a point of seeking out registered Republican voters, and the frustration with Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's senior senator and the Senate Minority Leader, seemed indistinguishable from--or perhaps better to say, "was a large part of"--the general frustration with Washington. "Republicans in Washington, D.C. are just playing 'follow the leader,' Janice Cox told me at a rally in Paducah earlier today, to which she'd brought her daughter, grandchildren, and a jumbo-sized American flag. "We need a true constitutional conservative."

Of the two major GOP candidates, Paul has been by far the purer: Trey Grayson wants to balance the budget eventually, but Paul wants to do it in a single year. Grayson wants to rein in earmarks without banishing them outright (Kentucky benefits greatly from earmarks, especially given McConnell's seniority), Paul wants to do away with them altogether. It's almost unfair to Grayson that this is costing him so dearly--he is being responsible in saying that the budget is not going to get balanced in one year (it's not), and he's looking out for the state's interests by wanting to bring home the pork. But it's clear, just as it was in Utah last week when Sen. Bob Bennett lost, that voters are angry and far more interested in a candidate who speaks in absolutes.  

Jump to comments
Presented by

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In