Rand Paul helps jumpstart GOP morale

March 16, 2013

CalWatchdog.com Editors

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — It’s no secret that Republicans in the Golden State have been dispirited by the last two election cycles where the GOP has been relegated to virtually no power in statewide politics.  Nationally 2012 was also a lackluster election year for Republicans, yet many in the party are beginning to bounce back showing signs of optimism. The source of this energy is not due necessarily to the ongoing Conservative Political Action Conference but instead due in part to Senator Rand Paul’s recent filibuster in the United State Senate.

Watching various speeches at CPAC, I’ve found it interesting that the rhetoric from Republican elected officials and conservative leaders hasn’t changed much from last year’s election to today. And in fact, in some cases it may have even hardened. Even former presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech Friday at CPAC that sounded like it was something from the campaign trail rather than a forward looking message. (There have been a few exceptions, of course, like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s call for a new focus for his party, similar to other speeches he’s made recently and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s chastising of the party’s establishment.)

Yet the high point for Republicans—in this moment at least— seems to be Senator Rand Paul. His filibuster demanding answers from the Obama Administration on the use of drones on United States soil illustrated the ability of one senator to lead on an issue and capture  the national dialogue, even as a member of the minority party in the United State Senate.

Staffers on Capitol Hill noted that Paul’s filibuster helped change the level of morale among Republicans in Washington, and it did so at a key moment; just before the leading national gathering of conservatives. At CPAC Sen. Paul was remarkably well received but particularly so by large numbers of young conservatives—many young conservatives who likely attended the event, at least in part, because of Paul.

Rand Paul’s recent ascent in popularity further stokes rumors of a presidential run for the Kentucky senator in 2016. Regardless of the potentiality of a bid for the White House, the GOP has a libertarian-minded Republican helping shape public discourse on issues with crossover appeal particularly hitting a cord with young people and those interested in civil liberties. That’s progress.

Even though a wholesale change in messaging by Republicans has not been evident at CPAC, there are new, powerful voices beginning to shape a movement in need some modernization. And thus an understandable bump in enthusiasm by the GOP.

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