The question for Paul, now that he’s back on Capitol Hill, is whether he can translate a solid week of speaking and relationship building in the Golden State into donations and momentum, and make his rediscovered crunchiness more than a passing fancy.
His advisers say they’ll keep reaching out to everyone he met for ideas and support, and they expect Paul to balance his talk of hiking and composting with his usual emphasis on personal liberty and freedom. By challenging the party from within, and being more open about his tree-hugging temperament, they’re hoping he can cultivate support beyond the Tea Party.
But it’s Paul’s passion, more than anything, that will likely set him apart and animate his crunchy spin on Republican politics. “I think of the passion of Patrick Henry — ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ — combined with the energy of the Proclaimers’ song,” he told the Reagan crowd at the end of his speech. He then quoted the band’s most famous lyric: “I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more, just to be the guy who walked that thousand miles to fall down at your door.’”
This time, instead of chuckling, the crowd cheered.
— Robert Costa is National Review’s Washington editor.