Speed Reads

2016 Watch

Rand Paul is his own worst enemy

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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) just blundered into another problem of his own making. Days after saying Republicans should not "go too crazy" in their efforts to implement restrictive voter ID laws, the freshman Kentucky lawmaker walked back his criticism, saying he supported such proposals after all.

In a statement to Slate, a spokesperson said Paul only meant that voter ID laws, "should not be a defining issue of the Republican Party," and that, "in terms of the specifics of voter ID laws, Senator Paul believes it's up to each state to decide that type of issue."

This is the biggest problem Paul will face if he pursues a White House bid. He has a penchant for breaking with the party — most notably on national security — and espousing beliefs that are anathema to a big chunk of primary voters. Racing to clarify his remarks may stem the backlash from the right in the short term, but it also risks painting him as a waffler in the long term.

This creates something of a no-win for Paul: Either stick to his guns and irk the base, or hedge his criticisms and come across as unprincipled.