Rand Paul has been something of a bit player on the political stage since winning his first term in the Senate in 2010. But his 13-hour "talking filibuster" to delay John Brenna's confirmation as CIA director this week may have changed that overnight.
Paul grilled the Obama administration on its secretive use of armed drones against al Qaeda suspects — even forcing Attorney General Eric Holder to state flatly that the administration would never use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil unless they're engaged in combat. And Paul seized the moment, telling Politico that he's "seriously" considering running for president in 2016. "I think our party needs something new, fresh and different," he said. Could Paul succeed where his father, former congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, failed?
In a word, no, according to Margaret Carlson at Bloomberg. "I don't think his filibuster makes Senator Rand Paul a serious national figure," she says. "As beautiful a thing as" his filibuster was, it simply can't change the fact that there are other Republicans out there — Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush — who are more viable as national figures.
[Paul] just doesn't convey solidity. Although I don't agree with his father, former Representative Ron Paul, his dad has a firm intellectual grounding for his sometimes wacky beliefs. He speaks confidently. The father may be able to hand off his political organization to his son, but he can't hand off his ability to thrust and parry in Republican presidential debates. [Bloomberg]
Some conservatives say it's unwise to dismiss Paul's chances — and not simply because of the rave reviews he got for his filibuster. "By the time the 2016 Republican presidential race rolls around, the Paul filibuster will be a distant memory — even to the grassroots of the party," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. "But the motivation behind the filibuster — a combination of genuine conviction and a sense for the dramatic — will still burn strongly in Paul."
It's why we continue to believe no one should underestimate Paul's ability to have a major impact on the 2016 race. While his beliefs — particularly on foreign policy — are outside the mainstream of current Republican thought, Paul will get points among the base for actually believing what he says. [Hot Air]
There's little question that Paul's filibuster vaulted him "to the forefront of the 2016 Republican presidential conversation," says Alexandra Jaffe at The Hill. "The challenge now facing the first-term senator, say GOP operatives, is finding a way to stay there." Dominating the news cycle this week won't propel him past better-known would-be candidates like Rubio and Bush, but it's a start. Next stop: Next week's Conservative Political Action Committee conference. Paul, a featured speaker, will have the opportunity to build on his newfound popularity. "There are going to be a lot more people than there were yesterday going to CPAC who will want to get their picture taken with Paul, who will want to shake his hand," says Kevin Madden, who was a senior adviser to Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign. "There will be a lot more people than there were yesterday saying, 'Hey, I hope you run in 2016.'"