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    Rand Paul Tag

    Fox Business News announced the line up for the January 14, 2016 Republican Debate. This is the last debate before the Iowa caucuses. Mercifully, we are down to just 7 people on main stage. The Big Names not on stage anymore are Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina. Jeb is now on the edge, physically and metaphorically. Looking back, it's interesting how there has been a realignment. Jeb is moving on down, and Christie fought his way back. What has not changed is Trump in the center position, and a solidifying of what everyone knows -- it's Trump at the top, Cruz as the main challenger. Carson is a goner. Jeb is a goner.  Rubio, Kasich and Christie are vying for the non-Trump, non-Cruz candidacy. Here's how things looked at the mid-December 2015 CNN debate:

    According to polling rules set for Republican primary debates, Rand Paul may find himself demoted to the lower tier while Christie comes back to the main stage next Tuesday. Steven Shepard reports at Politico:
    Rand Paul could be booted from main debate stage Rand Paul, once considered the main contender for the anti-establishment GOP vote, will likely be pushed off the debate stage next week when CNN announces the lineup for the fifth Republican forum. Chris Christie, however, has clawed back in the polling thanks to a rebound in New Hampshire, virtually ensuring he will be promoted to the main event in Las Vegas on Tuesday, according to POLITICO’s calculations...

    Art Laffer, famed member of President Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board, has co-authored, with Stephen Moore, an article for Investor's Business Daily in which they assert that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have the "best" tax proposals. They begin with a bit of a warning to those serious about tax reform:
    All the GOP tax plans look good to us — though some are admittedly better than others. The danger now is that too many conservatives have formed a circular firing squad and are shooting down nearly all proposals on purity grounds or attacking trivial differences. This is the surest way to derail tax reform altogether. If Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Bill Bradley had held to such a "my way or the highway" approach, the epic 1986 tax reform that collapsed tax rates to 15% and 28% never would have happened.
    That said, Laffer and Moore continue by narrowing their focus to Rand and Cruz:
    Which brings us to Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. The two of us helped craft their low-rate flat tax plans. The plans are similar: Paul's rates are 14.5% on business net sales and wages and salaries. Cruz has a 16% business net sales tax and a 10% wage and salary tax.

    Rand Paul's disappointing poll numbers and fundraising for his presidential campaign are reportedly a cause for concern among the GOP both in his home state of Kentucky and in Washington. Last week, reports indicated that donors and the Kentucky GOP were urging Rand to focus on his senate reelection bid rather than on his flailing presidential campaign. The AP reported:
    A defiant Rand Paul is brushing off weak fundraising and weaker poll numbers as would-be donors and home state Republicans push him to abandon an uphill presidential bid to focus on his Senate re-election. . . . . But back in Kentucky, a growing chorus of Republicans suggested that Paul's Senate re-election was by no means guaranteed, despite the state's strong GOP leanings and the lack of a clear Democratic challenger. "He could lose both positions," said Patricia Vincent, chairwoman of the Graves County Republican Party. "He just needs to work a little bit more to make sure he still has a seat in the Senate."

    Rand Paul's star has faded within the crowded Republican field, but his team is hoping that a novel digital effort will draw enough attention to Paul (and his policies) to turn things back in the right direction. Today, Rand Paul is livestreaming...everything. The stream will be available on Paul's Facebook page and Ustream channel, offering what the campaign has touted as unprecedented access into life on the campaign trail. Via Rare:
    The Paul campaign’s Chief Digital Strategist Vincent Harris told Rare, “In an effort to continue his efforts to run the most digital savvy and transparent campaign on either side of the aisle, Senator Paul will be the first Presidential candidate to live-stream an entire day on the campaign trail.” The live stream, which will be viewable through the campaign’s Facebook and UStream.tv pages, will begin with Paul’s morning in Iowa and will last throughout the entire day. The coverage will wrap up Tuesday night with Paul reacting live to the Democratic debate—the first time Hillary Clinton will have to face Bernie Sanders and the rest of her competitors. Now that could be fun.
    Paul announced the decision yesterday on Twitter:

    Rand Paul is in trouble. The Real Clear Politics average has him at just 2.3% in the polls, putting him well behind outliers like John Kasich (3.2%), Mike Huckabee (2.9%), and Chris Christie (2.6%). Substantive comments in last month's CNN debate didn't help him much---but Carly Fiorina's popularity spiked. Enter a golden opportunity for Paul to hitch a ride on Fiorina's media wave. During an interview yesterday with Wolf Blitzer, he lashed out against Fiorina's hardline stance against dealing with Putin and tolerating Assad's regime in Syria:

    Insider speculation pegged Paul as the next to drop out of the crowded Republican primary weeks ago. Today, one of three Paul-supporting SuperPACs has stopped raising money until they see, "the campaign correct its problems." Politico reports:
    One of the three super PACs supporting Rand Paul’s presidential campaign has stopped raising money, dealing a damaging blow to an already cash-starved campaign. In a Tuesday telephone interview, Ed Crane, who oversees the group, PurplePAC, accused Paul of abandoning his libertarian views -- and suggested it was a primary reason the Kentucky senator had plummeted in the polls. “I have stopped raising money for him until I see the campaign correct its problems,” said Crane, who co-founded the Cato Institute think tank and serves as its president emeritus. “I wasn’t going to raise money to spend on a futile crusade.” “I don’t see the point in it right now,” he added. PurplePAC has been in existence for around two years, but over the summer Crane transformed it into a Paul-focused vehicle. It joined two other super PACs, America’s Liberty and Concerned American Voters, that were expressly designed to support Paul. In July, PurplePAC announced that it had raised around $1.2 million - the vast majority of it coming from Jeff Yass, a Philadelphia options trader. Crane said the organization currently had over $1 million cash on hand, but no longer wanted to ask for contributions. “I just don’t want to do that to my friends,” he said. The libertarian views that catapulted Paul to national prominence had “disappeared,” Crane said, leaving many of Paul's longtime backers miffed.

    As we recently reported, Rand Paul has been dealing with the unique issue of running for president and his senate seat at the same time. Yesterday, his plans were approved. Dave Weigel of the Washington Post:
    Rand Paul sells Kentucky GOP on presidential caucus Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) avoided a major headache Saturday after Kentucky Republican Party approved a rule change that would allow him to run for president while seeking reelection to his Senate seat. "I applaud the Republican Party of Kentucky on their decision to hold a caucus in the upcoming Republican presidential cycle," Paul said in a statement. "The people of Kentucky deserve a voice as the GOP chooses their next nominee, and holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process." The party's central committee approved Kentucky's first-ever presidential caucus for March 5, 2016. The vote was 111 to 36, a stronger showing than expected, after a drama that took most of the day -- ending just 20 minutes before the meeting had to end. Two-third of the central committee were needed to approve the caucus.

    Rand Paul is dealing with some tricky rules as he tries to run for president and hold on to his senate seat at the same time. Chris Moody of CNN reports:
    Rand Paul's tough choice Rand Paul has a choice: Spend nearly half a million dollars to keep his increasingly longshot presidential ambitions alive in his home state or leave the Senate. For now, he's choosing to pony up. Paul's political future rests partially in the hands of nearly 350 Republican officials in Kentucky, who will decide Saturday whether to approve a costly plan that would allow him to run in Kentucky for president and the U.S. Senate simultaneously—and possibly salvage his chances of staying in electoral politics after 2016. The proposal, which acts as a work-around of a state law that forbids candidates in Kentucky from running for two federal offices at the same time, would establish a presidential caucus in early March in addition to the state primary scheduled two months later.

    The Ted Cruz campaign is holding its own in terms of polls and campaign fundraising; indeed, according to reports, the Cruz campaign raked in $1 million within the first 100 hours following last Thursday's debate.  His #CruzCountry bus tour is also creating a lot of buzz on Twitter, with enthusiastic supporters tweeting that they've just met the "next president." Watch: Winning the presidency is clearly Cruz's goal, and he seems to be playing a long game.

    Rand Paul released a new ad today, and it's truly a must-see---especially if you're a fan of chainsaws, woodchippers, large bonfires, the national anthem, or tax reform. Who am I kidding? Americans are fans of all those things! Let's get right to it: At about the 37 second mark, the video turns interactive, asking viewers which method they believe Paul should use to lay waste to a paper copy of the tax code:

    Earlier this year, Rasmussen released a poll showing that only 31% of Americans trust the IRS to enforce tax laws fairly.  Given the targeting of conservatives, reports of refunds going to illegals who didn't pay taxes, and the sharing of confidential tax payer information with the White House, it's surprising the percentage is that high. It seems clear that there is growing dissatisfaction with the IRS and with the nation's ridiculously complex tax laws.  At 74,608 pages, the U. S. tax code is both ponderous and confusing. With all of the new taxes buried in ObamaCare alone, the tax code has grown by nearly 3,000 pages since 2010. In response to all of this, Americans are more ready than ever for substantial tax reform, and hearing the call, Rand Paul released a new video outlining his new tax plan that appears to be a hybrid of the fair tax and the flat tax. Here's the statement from his website:
    I stand with Rand in his fight to defeat the Washington Machine and drive a stake through the heart of the IRS by: Ending the workers tax: This plan will end the FICA payroll tax, the largest tax for many working Americans. It goes to zero. Eliminating the headaches and complications in filing federal taxes by allowing every taxpayer to file a simple, one-page return with a low and fair tax rate of 14.5%, saving American families over $2 TRILLION in the first 10 years;

    Rand Paul is in trouble. At least, it looks like Rand Paul is in trouble. When answering questions about fundraising posed by Politico last week, spokesmen from both the official campaign and America's Liberty PAC couched on their actual numbers. PAC spokesman Jesse Benton may have revealed much more than he intended when he said, “Results to date have been solid and give us lots of room for optimism as we continue. We also know this is a marathon, not a sprint.” Oof. Marathon-not-sprint is never where you want to be when other candidates are charming the multimillionaires who make national presidential campaigns tick. Part of me believes it shouldn't be this way. Paul has been making headlines as an anti-establishment pot-stirrer with his opposition to the impending PATRIOT Act extension. Back in 2013, an overwhelming majority of Americans stood in solidarity with Paul after he held a 13-hour filibuster protesting the use of drone strikes against American citizens. Senator Paul has been much more adept than fellow presidential contender Senator Cruz at influencing his colleagues on issues of policy without crossing the line into willful alienation---so what's the problem? The other side of my brain knows, though---and so do donors and strategists. More from Politico:

    I like a lot of what Rand Paul has to say; I'm on board with limited Constitutional government, auditing the Fed, thoughtful deregulation, and major tax reform.  When it comes to foreign policy and America's place in the world, however, I can't think of another Republican with whom I disagree more.  (Except maybe his father.) And I'm not alone.  Rand has been trying to affirm his strength on national security precisely because there are a lot GOP primary voters who do not share his isolationist leanings.  As Kemberlee noted in September of last year, Rand's "I'm neither an isolationist nor an interventionist" may not have appeal . . .  to either side. His rhetoric has changed rather dramatically from last fall, however.  Now he's going so far as to argue that Republican hawks "created" ISIS.  This statement is getting a lot of attention, and for good reason: it's an amazing and strange thing to say.  Watch:

    Rand Paul inhabits a unique position in the Republican Party. While he's conservative on some issues, his Libertarian views on others put him at odds with the establishment. His recent filibuster on the Patriot Act is a prime example. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard voiced his thoughts on the issue in an appearance on ABC News Sunday. I'm not sure this is a fair line of attack. Evan McMurry of Mediaite has the story:
    Kristol: Liberal Democrats Had Rand Paul’s Policies Before He Did A This Week panel noted that Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) #standswithRand (sigh) over the NSA’s bulk collection of communications data and criminal justice reform, causing Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to call for a point of clarification. “That’s not fair to Keith,” Kristol said. “Rand stands with Keith. Seriously. They had these positions first. Rand Paul has decided that he wants to be a liberal Democrat, undercut necessary intelligence collection and weaken law enforcement services, and Rand Paul thinks that’s going to sell in the Republican primary.
    Here's the video:

    Sen. Paul made headlines a few weeks ago when he lobbed the abortion gotcha questions back into the Democrat's court. This week, Paul released a video detailing his pro-life stance. On Facebook, Sen. Paul's official campaign account included the following statement:
    I strongly believe in the sanctity of life and that an abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. As a physician, one of the first things we learn is to ‘do no harm.’ Since the Roe v. Wade decision, over 50 million children have been killed in abortion procedures. This is a tragedy. We cannot have liberty if we do not first protect life. As President, I will champion an agenda that supports and defends all human life, no matter how defenseless.
    "Can a country founded on God-given rights continue to thrive without understanding that life is a precious gift from our Creator?" asks Paul. A bit theatric, but well done nonetheless:

    While I'm not a fan of Grover Norquist, I do appreciate his Americans for Tax Reform's work each election cycle to get candidates on the record regarding tax increases.  It's not the be-all-and-end-all, but it does indicate to voters where candidates stand in terms of big government and taxation.  The Hill reports:
    The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is maintained by Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and has been signed by the majority of Republicans in Congress. The group says it has shared the pledge with all candidates running for federal office since 1986. In separate statements, Norquist said their signatures show Paul and Cruz continue “to protect American taxpayers against higher taxes.” Signing the pledge could help the senators draw a contrast with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is expected to also launch a presidential bid and is considered a leading candidate for the GOP nomination.
    Ted Cruz tweeted a photo of himself signing it to underscore his seriousness:
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