The mainstream media will tell you that the major hurdle Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul must overcome to be his party's presidential nominee in 2016 is his foreign policy -- specifically, that he's not that into war. Well the MSM is wrong. The real hurdle Paul must clear -- climb, really, with his little paws -- is the American public's irrational and stubborn tendency to not vote for short people. 5'7" John McCain? Lost. 5'6" Michael Dukakis? Lost. And Rand Paul is short. At 5'8" Rand Paul is so short that if 5'7" Hillary Clinton wears heels (standard heels are 3 inches) and poufs her hair (which can give her another inch and a half), she'll tower over him.
In his closed-door meetings with fundraisers Friday, Paul needed to please both GOP donors and GOP activists, CNN's Peter Hamby says. "How well he straddles those two worlds could very well determine if the diminutive ophthalmologist can re-shape the party in his own image," Hamby writes. Wrong! What will determine whether Paul can re-shape the party in his image is whether he can trick those two groups into not noticing a certain aspect of his image. (To see how this works, see the photo above of Paul with McCain, who is the same height as Clinton.) Size matters because Americans have a consistent tendency to vote for the tallest candidate. In the 29 elections since 1900, the winner has been either taller than or the same height as his opponent 20 times. Short guys rarely win — the shortest person elected president in 100 years was 5'9" Harry Truman, and he beat a 5'8" Thomas Dewey in 1948.
There are signs of concern about the looming height gap within the Republican presidential field. As Ann Coulter noted earlier this year, "Rubio and Rand Paul, for one thing, are as tall as my iPod." (Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is reportedly 5'9".) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is 5'11", but is struggling to deal with another aspect of his image that violates America's strict beauty standards.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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