As Rand Paul has risen to prominence as a national figure, transforming from libertarian gadfly to viable presidential candidate, his father’s controversial legacy has hung over his head. Sam Tanenhaus and Jim Rutenberg tell the story in the New York Times today and Paul responded to David Gregory’s questions on the matter on Meet the Press, defending his father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul, as a “rare figure in politics.”
“Don’t be trashin’ my dad too much, that’s my dad,” Paul said after Gregory cited his fellow Republican Ted Cruz’s private remark that the younger Paul can never be elected president due to the strident libertarianism of his father. “My dad was extraordinary in Washington in being genuine, being really liked by people on both sides, being close to people from the conservative wing of the party but also very close to the Congressional Black Caucus as well,” Paul said. “He went to Berkeley and had 7,000 kids on their feet, he went to Liberty University and had 7,000 conservative Christian kids on their feet. That’s a rare figure in politics, so I would say I’m proud of my dad and what I’m trying to do is bring that message to an even bigger crowd.”
In an interview last May with National Review Online, Paul acknowledged nonetheless that he needs to strike out on his own. “I am my own person and as I move forward I have to and want to present to the public . . . in my state and elsewhere, who I am and what I stand for, but it’s not so much that I want to say ‘Oh, I’m different on this, this, and this,’ it’s really getting beyond the comparison just to being who I am,” he said.