Rand Paul has dropped out of the Republican race for his party’s presidential nomination after coming in fifth in Iowa. I thought that he would stay in at least until the New Hampshire primary because the evangelical climate of Iowa was not really conducive to his campaign and the more libertarian streak in New Hampshire would be better for him. But his poll numbers were poor there too and he must have decided it was hopeless to carry on.
I predicted back in 2013 that he, along with Marco Rubio, would both run in the 2016 cycle and that Paul could emerge as the ‘dark horse’ candidate. So much for that prediction. Paul never seemed to gain any traction despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that he offered a different perspective from the rest.
The reason I thought that Paul might do well this time was because of the strong commitment of the followers of his father Ron Paul when he ran in 2008 and 2012. There seemed to be a committed core of especially young people drawn to the libertarian philosophy of the elder Paul coupled with his scathing criticisms of the Bush wars. The elder Paul was a bit of a conundrum, who mixed up some progressive views that made him on occasion an ally of Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich, though he also had some wild Randian libertarian ideas. He appealed to quite a large constituency and I thought that the younger Paul would build on it this time. But he just could not pull it off perhaps because in trying to appeal more to the base of the Republican party, he deviated from some of his father’s message and thus seemed less authentic.
The next Republican debate is on Saturday. Paul had brought a different perspective to those discussions, challenging some of the party orthodoxy especially on foreign interventions, and he will be missed for that reason alone. ABC News is hosting the event and has said that they will not be having the undercard debate and their criteria for inclusion in the main event are such that there may be as few as six people taking part, though it is more likely that it will consist of the following seven: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Rubio, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie. Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Jim Gilmore will not make it.