Sen. Rand Paul appeared on three talk shows Sunday to tout his party's agenda ahead of Tuesday's midterms. But all the hosts wanted to talk about was how much he thinks the GOP sucks.
That's because, on Thursday, Paul echoed what he's been saying for nearly a year now, only with more gusto: The GOP is bad at branding.
"Remember Domino's Pizza?" Paul asked a GOP field office in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Detroit. "They admitted, 'Hey, our pizza crust sucks.' The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don't want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans."
Paul has been making the Domino's comparison for months, but in all three of his Sunday show appearances this morning, the hosts latched onto his almost adolescent wording when the senator appeared on the Sunday shows two days before the midterm elections.
"Senator, let's start this segment talking about a famous line that I think we will see a lot: 'The GOP brand sucks,' " CNN's State of the Union anchor Candy Crowley told Paul.
"I want to ask you something about what you said the other day in Michigan," NBC's Meet the Press host Chuck Todd told Paul, then recited the "sucks" quote back to him. "You are admitting you have a brand problem. How do you fix the brand problem before 2016 if that's the case?"
Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's Face the Nation, led with the "sucks" quote in his interview with Paul. "You had a somewhat surprising comment the other day. You said, and this is your quote, 'The Republican brand sucks.' "
Paul raised his eyebrows in mock surprise. "Did I say that?"
"That is a pretty unusual rallying cry in an election year," Schieffer continued.
It is an odd statement coming from the person who has traveled to more than 30 states in the past few months to work as a campaign surrogate for the Republican Party. More than any of his colleagues, Paul has been simultaneously questioning his party's brand and reinforcing it on the campaign trail.
Not only is Paul campaigning for candidates he opposed in the primary, he's using his 30-state surrogacy tour as a testing grounds for his own presidential ambitions. This exchange between Crowley and Paul reads almost like a thesis statement for Paul's candidacy in 2016.
"I want to be someone who does bring the party together. If you ever want to hold national office, I think you've got to not only bring your party together. You've got to bring both parties and independents together to say, 'We want what's best for America,' " he said.
Crowley asked if Paul's credentials—four years in public office after a career in medicine—are enough to make him a viable presidential candidate.
"Which position you occupied isn't so important as, I think, we want people with wisdom," Paul said. "I think we want people who are steeped in history, people who understand traditional both parties, and of uniting the country. You want someone in charge of our nuclear arsenal who is not rash, reckless or eager to get into war."
Now that we know how Paul wants to pitch himself to voters, there's just one more detail to sort out.
"Are you gonna run?" Schieffer asked him.
Paul laughed, seemingly disarmed at the simplicity of the question. "Maybe. I don't know. We're thinking about it, and sometime in the next six months I'll make a final decision, but sometime in the spring," he said.
Paul used the midterms to show that, unlike his father, he can take one for the team, while still being critical of the team. After Tuesday, he can start working toward his own Heisman.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated host Bob Schieffer's opening question to Paul on Face the Nation.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.