No-brainer newsflash: Rand Paul may run for president. He's seriously looking at it and his recent trip to Israel with evangelical leaders is "Exhibit A." He'll need evangelicals strongly in his camp to make a strong run.
His recent push for a "personhood" law (which would establish that human life begins at conception, and then extend the 14th Amendment to all fetuses) will be an important factor for Paul in the ability to attract evangelical voters.
You can make a serious argument that Sen. Paul may be the most refreshing, honest talking candidate to come along in quite some time. He's a politician that doesn't shy away from giving straight-forward answers. He calls it like he sees it and that is something unique in politics.
There are no standard generic answers. But it's not just that. He seems to have a deft touch to be a grassroots guy while not totally ticking off the establishment Republicans he would need in his corner to make a successful run.
Watch out folks. Rand Paul has a huge upside if played right. He has the potential to have a huge libertarian following along with the real possibility of attracting significant evangelical support.
Here's a portion of a story about his recent trip to Israel:
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Returning to Washington from his weeklong tour of Israel, Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul took national security hawks off-guard Wednesday by voicing support for an Iron Dome-style missile defense system to defend major U.S. cities.
"Absolutely I'm in favor of it," Paul told reporters on a conference call briefing reporters on his trip. "There's no reason our White House, our Capitol, and our major cities shouldn't have a missile defense."
"I saw presentations on the Iron Dome and it was very impressive," he added.
The comments, along with other statements Paul made while in Israel, have come as a pleasant surprise to pro-Israel hardliners, many of whom have criticized the Kentucky Senator for being anti-Israel as a result of his opposition to foreign aid.
By Paul's own admission, last week's trip to the Middle East was largely aimed at dispelling the perception that his libertarian foreign policy views are incompatible with his party's hardline stance toward Israel.
"Part of the reason I am here is to show that I am not anti-Israel," Paul told evangelical leaders who accompanied him on the trip. "There is this perception out there that because I'm in favor of cutting foreign aid I am not a friend to Israel…But there is more than one way to be a friend to Israel."
In Israel, political leaders and conservative activists who met with Paul told Business Insider that he was mostly successful in achieving this goal.
"It was a home run," said David Lane, a California-based evangelical leader who organized Paul's trip. "He handled himself — his first trip to Israel – very, very well."
"For the first time, he's actually taken a very substantial position — now he's on the record where he stands," said Mallory Factor, an influential conservative activist who accompanied Paul for part of his trip. "He does have a handle on the issues — he calls it the way it should be called, instead of trying to be politically correct about it."
By framing his libertarian foreign policy as a question of Israeli sovereignty rather than U.S. isolationism, Factor said, Paul was able to walk the fine line between showing support for Israel and abandoning his libertarian principles.
On the question of settlements, for example, Paul's non-interventionist positions put him firmly in line with Israel hawks.
"If somebody asked me where to build in Israel, I would say it's none of my business," Paul told reporters in Israel. "What I think is wrong is for American politicians to come to Jerusalem and say 'You shouldn't be building in this neighborhood'…or for American politicians to come over and tell you that you need to give the Golan Heights back."
Extrapolating this argument to his position on foreign aid, Paul told his audiences in Israel that gradually cutting back assistance would reduce the pressure to fall in line with U.S. policy preferences.
"I don't think Israel should be dictated to," he said in Jerusalem. "But I also think that if [Israel] were less dependent on our aid, it would be less beholden. I don't think Israel needs to come on bended knee to ask if she can defend herself."
Paul avoided calling for an outright end to foreign aid to Israel, however, saying that the U.S. should first cut off funding for countries who "burn the American flag," including Egypt and Palestine.
Marco Rubio may be the guy to kick start immigration reform on the Republican side of the aisle. His plan not only makes a lot of sense but he's able to explain it in a way that's hard to argue with.
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More info from Talking Points Memo below:
Add Bill O’Reilly to the list of conservative media personalities experimenting with immigration reform. The Fox News host told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Wednesday that the senator’s plan, which closely resembles President Obama’s immigration framework, sounded reasonable.
Rubio’s proposed solution, although still vague, would give undocumented immigrants legal status and an eventual path to citizenship provided they meet a series of criteria that are mostly consensus benchmarks among immigration reform advocates.
“You have to come forward, you have to be finger printed, background checked for national security and crimes, you have to pay back taxes, you have to pay fines, you have to have been here for a significant period of time, know English and be assimilated,” Rubio told O’Reilly, who has been highly critical of illegal immigrants in the past on his show. “And if you do all of those things, what you get is a work permit, basically. A legal status, not a green card, to allow you to be in this country legally and to work.”