Rand Paul Flirting With Presidential Run

He hasn't been in the Senate long, but neither was Barack Obama

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Sen. Rand Paul is flirting with running for president, telling a South Carolina audience that "only decision I've made is I won't run against my dad," The Charleston Post and Courier's Robert Behre reports. Still, he's scheduled trips to early primary states New Hampshire and Iowa, because "I want the tea party to have an influence over who the nominee is in 2012."

The Atlantic's Josh Green says that though he had earlier heard gossip that Paul--son of libertarian icon Rep. Ron Paul--was considering stepping into the 2012 race, "I dismissed it out of hand because I didn't believe anyone would contemplate running for president at a point when their Senate tenure had to be measured in days, rather than years. ... But it looks like I may have been naive," Green writes.

Another way to look at it, though, is that Paul will have had two years in the Senate in 2012. Barack Obama had only two years in when he started campaigning in 2006! The two politicians have more in common than one might expect. They were both community activists. They both have a devoted young fan base. They both were born in the early 1960s--making them too young to participate in most embarrassing Boomer stuff. As an extra bit of trivia, they both are into sports and both dabbled in drugs: Obama did "a little blow," while Paul made a fellow college student worship his bong.

The Paul family is going to remain a thorn in the Republican Party's side for a while, Jacob Heilbrunn writes The National Interest. He argues:

Ron Paul caused waves at the Reagan library when he denounced America's intevention abroad, causing Rudoph Giuliani to go into paroxysms of rage. But Rand believes that America should butt out abroad as well, and he won't be shy about announcing it, either. Together with Haley Barbour, who has been scoffing at President Obama's intervention in Libya, they could help shake up the 2012 field.

It's another sign that the GOP establishment is on the defensive. The Tea Party, far from fading, appears to be gathering strength for 2012. The party's grandees are not.

Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin adds, "Of note: Rand and Ron Paul are from different states, making a Paul/Paul '12 ticket constitutionally sound should Rand change his mind."

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