In fact, Paul opposed the Senate immigration reform bill even after it was amended to include a border “surge” amendment, because he said the amendment — which Sen. John McCain said would give the U.S. the “most militarized border” since the Berlin Wall — didn’t go far enough. As the bill was being debated, Paul also played into right-wing fears by claiming that undocumented immigrants were being given greater rights than American citizens.
In an interview with the anti-immigrant website WorldNetDaily yesterday, Paul’s spokesman Brian Darling insisted that while Paul appeared on a conference call with a conservative immigration reform group this week, he did not “advocate for the passage of anything.”
Darling also disputed a press release from the pro-immigration group, the Partnership for a New American Economy, which announced that Sen. Paul was “throwing his political weight behind an establishment lobby effort to get Congress to reform the country’s immigration system this year.”
He told WND that Paul’s staff “never approved any Partnership press release that said Rand Paul was going to push for immigration reform legislation this year, and we specifically asked them not to put that in any press release.”
So there you have it: Paul supports immigration reform with words, but won’t vote for a reform bill or propose one himself.
“Sen. Rand Paul never embraced amnesty on the call,” his office stated in an email. “Sen. Paul has never advocated for amnesty in any other forum and he voted against the Senate immigration bill.
“As a matter of fact, Sen. Paul offered an amendment on the immigration bill last year to strengthen border security by forcing annual votes in Congress before any benefits from the bill were authorized,” the statement said.
A press release issued by Partnership for a New American Economy announced Paul joined Norquist “to talk about immigration reform and the Senator’s ideas to strengthen border security, reform existing immigration laws for employers and attempt to find common ground on smaller immigration related matters.”
The Washington Times published a story Wednesday on the conference call with the headline “Rand Paul throws weight behind immigration reform effort.” The Times said Paul, on the heels of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning primary defeat, “on Wednesday waded deeper into an issue that has proved perilous to some of his GOP colleagues, throwing his political weight behind an establishment lobby effort to get Congress to reform the country’s immigration system this year.”
Brian Darling, a spokesman for Paul, told WND the Times story mischaracterized Paul’s position.
“He didn’t go on any call to advocate for the passage of anything,” Darling said. “He was just there to talk about his views on the issue, which he’s talked about a million times before.”
Darling told WND the Partnership for a New American Economy had sent a version of its press release to him, and it was supposed to be changed.
“The one I saw was totally different from the Partnership’s press release that I approved,” he said. “I did see one version of it, and the version they published is different. The version that said Rand Paul was on the call to push for immigration reform this year was not approved. Not only was it not approved, we flagged that and told them, do not publish that in any press release.”
He said Paul’s office “never approved any Partnership press release that said Rand Paul was going to push for immigration reform legislation this year, and we specifically asked them not to put that in any press release.”
Cliven Bundy, the lawless Nevada rancher whom conservatives touted as a champion of freedom akin to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., said at a press conference attended by the New York Times yesterday that slavery helped the “Negro” people feel free by learning “how to pick cotton” and stop going to jail, collecting welfare and having abortions.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Likely Republican presidential candidates including Rand Paul and Ted Cruz hailed Bundy’s cause and Nevada Republicans, including Senator Dean Heller, rallied around Bundy and allied militia groups. Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate and former congressman Tom Tancredo said Bundy was defending the “rule of law” against the “anarchist” President Obama even while the rancher was in defiance of several court orders.
As it is often the case, Fox News took the lead in creating the new GOP rock star by fetishizing the Bundy armed standoff as a triumph of ordinary patriots who, in the mode of the Founding Fathers, stood up to evil Big Government…seeming to forget the Founders also played a role in quashing Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion. Fox commentators like Sean Hannity and Todd Starnes touted Bundy even as the rancher’s group was making violent threats against the government.
Fox also took the lead in hailing Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after he claimed that black people were well treated and “happy” during the Jim Crow era and that problems in the black community are only a result of government welfare.
No one should be surprised that a violent, militia-aligned, anti-government extremist turned out to be a racist nostalgic for slavery, and neither should anyone be surprised that Republicans jumped on his cause.
During the Iowa caucus campaign, two Republican presidential candidates signed a Religious Right group’s declaration which said the black family was stronger under slavery, and attacking government programs as slavery has become a common right-wing talking point.
Now that Republicans and Fox News commentators may move to distance themselves from Bundy, it will serve as a reminder for the next time the GOP decides to get in bed with an anti-Obama extremist for freedom’s sake.
CBN’s chief political reporter David Brody fawns over every Republican politician he meets, and a recent blog post gushes over Rand Paul’s presidential prospects. You see, Brody explains, Rand Paul sometimes wears blue jeans, and his jeans “could take him into straight into The White House.”
“While other politicians are wearing a suit and tie, Paul is different,” he writes. “Paul’s choice of leg attire represents something. Whether the senator from Kentucky knows it or not, it’s his calling card to say he’s unique, different, and a trendsetter within the Republican Party.”
He goes on to hail Paul’s decision to wear jeans as a sign that “he’s leading” and “creating a new playbook and trying to create a new, younger, more diverse GOP voting constituency.”
Brody’s belief that Paul is radically transforming the foundering public image of the GOP is sadly not that unlike the general Republican playbook of changing the party’s appearance while not actually altering any of their ultraconservative stances.
Let’s be clear: Anyone who thinks Rand Paul can’t win the GOP nomination for president of the United States is foolish. He can. And if he wins, his “jeans” will be the reason. The jeans symbolize something that no other potential candidate for president possesses. Let’s explore.
You see, Rand Paul likes to wear jeans. While other politicians are wearing a suit and tie, Paul is different. At the recent CPAC event, all the other politicians went with the traditional look. Not Paul. Jeans were in order.
Some conservative commentators were upset. Peggy Noonan remarked that, “it’s not unusual for a man to wear jeans with a tie and jacket. They look like happy farmers, or cable TV anchors whose desks don’t show their legs. That being said, could we not wear grown-up suits when we are running for high office?”
But Noonan fails to grasp the deeper meaning.
Paul’s choice of leg attire represents something. Whether the senator from Kentucky knows it or not, it’s his calling card to say he’s unique, different, and a trendsetter within the Republican Party. His libertarian “genes” are represented in those blue jeans.
What we are witnessing is a man who has no desire to use the same tired old GOP playbook that’s been trotted out for decades. He’s creating a new playbook and trying to create a new, younger, more diverse GOP voting constituency.
So when he wears those blue jeans, it neatly fits in with his persona. After all, his libertarian “genes” fit perfectly inside those blue jeans. It’s non-traditional, just like libertarians. He’s not waiting around for others to figure out what the Republican Party needs to do and be. He’s stepping to the plate first. He’s leading.
He also understands that the traditional Republican orthodoxy of the past needs to change in order to win future elections. Does that mean those conservative principles need to change? No, of course not. But a fresh, different approach is needed.
And Rand Paul is going to do his best to walk that new path…in a pair of blue jeans that could take him into straight into The White House.
The Washington Post today looked into Rand Paul’s efforts to build a national political operation as he gears up for a presidential campaign, and revealed that Paul had hired Fritz Wenzel to serve as his pollster:
For the rest of this year, his national team’s chief duties will be to take the lead in their respective states in planning fundraisers and meet-ups and helping Paul’s Washington-based advisers get a sense of where support is solid and where it’s not. This is especially important in key early primary battlegrounds, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and in areas rich in GOP donors, such as Dallas and Chicago.
“A national leadership team is an important step, and it’s a critical one for the movement going forward,” said Fritz Wenzel, Paul’s pollster. “Rand has tremendous momentum, and the formation of this team will guide him as he gets closer to a decision and [will] serve as a foundation for a campaign.”
Wenzel runs Wenzel Strategies, the group behind several wildly inaccurate and conspiratorial polls, especially through its work as the polling arm for the far-right website WorldNetDaily. Wenzel’s group has:
Since Rand Paul is trying to distance himself from his own and his father’s extremist views, tapping WorldNetDaily’s pollster is probably not a good start to his effort to rebrand himself as a serious Republican leader.
The Institute on the Constitution’s Michael Peroutka, like Sen. Ted Cruz, will not agree with Sen. Rand Paul’s suggestion that the GOP needs to “agree to disagree” on social issues in order to attract young voters.
In fact, Peroutka told radio host Steve Deace yesterday that Paul’s suggestion is “really a formula for total chaos, tyranny and anarchy.”
“It’s really an un-American and unbiblical worldview,” he added. “It flies in the face of Americanism.”
“Right and wrong is already determined,” he explained. “You can’t give it over to some generation of people -- I don’t care how media savvy they are, I don’t care how relevant they might seem. That’s not where truth and right and wrong comes from.”
Iowa Republican gadfly Bob Vander Plaats attacked Rand Paul on yesterday’s Steve Deace program over the Kentucky senator’s silence on a federal court ruling striking down his state’s same-sex marriage ban.
Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, mused (probably correctly) that if Newt Gingrich were in Paul’s place, he would have called for defunding the federal district court that ruled in favor of marriage equality.
If Paul were truly “about liberty,” Vander Plaats said, he would be taking the lead to punish the Kentucky judge who struck down the marriage ban, a decision that Vander Plaats insisted “runs contrary to liberty” and defies the Declaration of Independence.
Vander Plaats: If another good friend of ours, Newt Gingrich, was in his position from the state of Kentucky, I can almost guarantee what Newt’s response would have been. It would have been, ‘We need to defund that court, we need to defund that judge. The Congress still holds the power of the purse. If we have courts, if we have judges operating outside of their constitutional authority, let’s pull their meal ticket away.’
It’s too bad that a senator like Ted Cruz and a senator like Mike Lee have to actually step up for the state of Kentucky when their own senator, Rand Paul, should be doing that.
Deace: What should Rand be doing instead of what he is doing right now, which is basically nothing? What shouldhe be doing instead?
Vander Plaats: Well, I think one thing is that he needs to step up to the microphone. This is his state, this is Kentucky. This is something that runs totally against who he is. I mean, he’s about liberty. And if it’s about liberty, and if you have a judge usurping the will of the people of Kentucky, that runs contrary to liberty. If you believe marriage is a state rights issue and the state of Kentucky says, ‘This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman, clearly defined,’ then you better stand up to that state rights issue. If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what he says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on.
In an interview on the Steve Malzberg Show yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky claimed that if Democrats want “any consistency” in fighting for women’s rights, they should “disown” former president Bill Clinton, who he called “gross,” an “unsavory character” and a “sexual predator.” Paul specifically urged Hillary Clinton to disown her husband: “All the time, candidates are asked to return money if an unsavory character gives them money. What if that unsavory character is your husband?”
“Where are the women who believe in women’s rights, the women who allege some kind of war is going on by the other party?” Paul demanded. “Where are they to stand up and say, you know what, maybe Bill Clinton isn’t really the best representative of our party since he really depicts what’s really gross and wrong with workplace harassment.”
“I think if they want to be credible in saying they defend women’s rights in the workplace, they really need to disown and really return any contributions that Bill Clinton’s either raising for people or given to people,” he added. “I think for the movement to proceed on or have any consistency, they need to disassociate themselves from him.”
Paul’s argument that the “War on Women” consists not of large-scale legislative attacks on women’s health, reproductive freedom, and rights in the workplace, but on individual instances of sexual harassment by Democratic politicians, has become popular among Republicans. It’s the same laughable argument that conservatives made last summer when they pointed to San Diego mayor Bob Filner and New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner to claim that it’s Democrats who don’t care about women’s rights.
After a devastating loss in 2012, Republicans claimed that they didn’t need to change themselves or their platform, but only cosmetic attributes such as their rhetoric and presentation. Other right-wing activists simply pretended that Republicans actually won the last election.
But if the actions taken this year by Republican leaders are any clue, it looks like Republicans either ignored or outright rejected even the superficial recommendations made in the GOP’s plan to revive the party:
1. Ending Aid To Jobless Americans
The perception, revealed in polling, that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the Party…. To people who are flat on their back, unemployed or disabled and in need of help, they do not care if the help comes from the private sector or the government — they just want help.
Republicans in Congress rejected an extension of unemployment benefits, which will not only hurt approximately 1.3 million Americans during a period when long-term joblessness is still high, but will also result in serious harm to economic growth. If Republicans do not waver from their position, up to 5 million people could be affected by the cuts. The party also passed enormous cuts to the food stamp program under the auspices of preventing the tremendously low rate of fraud in an effort to kick 5 million people off of food assistance.
But the GOP continues to give special benefits to millionaires, as earlier this year Republicans once again rebuffed the “Buffet Rule,” which would have ensured that millionaires don’t end up having a lower tax rate than average Americans.
2. Blocking Immigration Reform
[W]e must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform…. On issues like immigration, the RNC needs to carefully craft a tone that takes into consideration the unique perspective of the Hispanic community.
Even though a majority of Americans and House members support immigration reform which includes a pathway to citizenship, the House GOP leadership refused this year to call a vote on reform bills. Speaker John Boehner even said that Republicans “have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.” But the House did find time to pass Rep. Steve King’s amendment to defund a program that prevents undocumented children being deported.
GOP politicians continue to argue that immigration reform will literally destroy America, and one Republican congressman even used the slur “wetbacks” while describing immigrants. Rep. Louie Gohmert said that Republicans must reject immigration reform to win over Latino voters, while Rep. King dismissed young Latinos as drug smugglers with cantaloupe-sized calves.
3. Rolling Back Reproductive Choice
Republicans should develop a more aggressive response to Democrat rhetoric regarding a so-called “war on women.”
Republicans claim it is unfair that people believe they are behind a “war on women,” but they didn’t do themselves any favors by approving a sweeping anti-abortion bill. Rep. Trent Franks, the chief sponsor of the legislation, defended his bill by channeling Todd Akin when he argued that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” and then fundraised off his remarks.
Fellow Republican Rep. Michael Burgess rallied support for the bill by citing masturbating fetuses. But perhaps the biggest steps Republicans took in dismantling Roe v. Wade occurred on the state level, where GOP-controlled state legislatures passed a range of extreme anti-choice bills.
4. Preserving Anti-Gay Views
For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.
Even the GOP had to couch its call to be nicer to gay people as a political maneuver to making inroads with the youth vote, which helped secure President Obama’s re-election and is strongly in favor of LGBT equality. But the ties between the GOP and the anti-gay Religious Right remain rock solid, and many GOP leaders and potential presidential candidates addressed this year’s Values Voter Summit, where the event’s anti-gay sponsors and speakers repeatedly denounced gay rights.
Republican elected officials delivered stinging attacks against the Boy Scouts of America for ending its ban on gay members and also laced into the Supreme Court for overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law defended in court by the House GOP. Republican leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz ardently criticized marriage equality at Religious Right events, and even “libertarian” Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul denounced gay marriage, linking it to non-human marriage.
5. The Shrinking Party
We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.
In case you needed more evidence that Republican politicians take cues from the GOP’s ultraconservative base, look no further than the government shutdown, where the congressional GOP leadership allowed the Tea Party “suicide caucus” to lead an enormously unpopular and economically harmful government shutdown.
Republicans ended up getting nothing from the shutdown, but Rep. Marlin Stutzman did illuminate the GOP’s thinking: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
While we keep hearing talk of Republicans trying to seem more inclusive and “fighting back” against the Tea Party, it isn’t clear that the party is actually presenting any real challenge to Tea Party-aligned politicians. In fact, it seems that the GOP is actively embracing Tea Party’s extremist policies, fervent rhetoric and ideological purity tests.