Rand Paul’s team just unveiled a new video, showcasing Donald Trump’s past praise for Democrats and identification of himself as a liberal.
Rand Paul’s been pretty pugnacious with Trump for the past week. At the debate, Paul declared, “he buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already hedging his bets on the Clintons.”
In Monday afternoon conference call, Paul called Trump “a bully” and an “empty suit,” and comparing him to the “emperor with no clothes.” That night he told Bill O’Reilly that Trump as president would treat the country “like his bully fiefdom.”
He wrote an op-ed declaring, “It amazes me that anyone in the Tea Party movement could possibly consider Clinton/Reid/Pelosi supporter Donald Trump for President.”
Look at this from the perspective of Paul: He’s built a reputation as “the most interesting man in politics,” a man who could build upon his father’s base within the GOP (already about 10 percent of GOP primary voters), who could reach out to non-traditionally Republican audiences in Silicon Valley and African-Americans. A solid bid in 2016 was either going to result in winning the nomination, being selected as the vice-presidential choice on a unity ticket, or at least pulling the GOP in a more libertarian direction and becoming a force in the party for decades to come.
Suddenly a reality television star jumps into the race, and Paul gets reduced to an afterthought. In the RealClearPolitics national average, Paul was at 11.3 percent back in February. Now he’s at 4.4 percent. In the RCP average in Iowa, he was at the same level of support; now he’s at 3.2 percent. In the RCP average in New Hampshire, Paul was at almost 14 percent in May; he’s now at 5.6 percent. In the RCP average in South Carolina, Paul began the year at 7.5 percent, he’s now at 1.5 percent.
Not all of Paul’s departing support shifted to Trump, but Trump is using up almost all of the oxygen in the media environment. Thus, the only way for Paul to get back into the discussion — and to be seen as a serious alternative for Republicans who are repelled by Trump’s style – is by going on the attack.