Sen. Rand Paul’s hunt for political patrons took him to Manhattan this week and into the symbolic epicenter of Wall Street wealth: the Goldman Sachs headquarters.
Paul spoke Monday to a closed-door audience at the firm’s 200 West offices as part of an internal company speaker series known as Talks@GS. Paul appeared before a couple hundred Goldman officials, company spokesman Andrew Williams said, and the moderated Q&A session was broadcast internally throughout the company.
For Paul, the appearance is another example of how a candidate who first ran as an antiestablishment tea partier (his 2011 book was titled The Tea Party Goes to Washington) has wrapped his arms around the moneyed class.
Paul has been canvassing the New York donor set heavily as part of a widely expected presidential run in 2016. The financial sector is one of the biggest sources of campaign cash in the country, especially for Republicans, and Goldman is one of the biggest players on Wall Street. Goldman employees doled out more than $8.3 million to federal candidates and parties during the 2012 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Monday’s event lasted 45 minutes, with Paul taking questions from John F.W. Rogers, a Goldman executive vice president and chief of staff to the board, who served in the Reagan administration in the 1980s and, at Goldman, was a top confidante to both Jon Corzine and Henry Paulson when they were CEOs.
Paul spoke about foreign policy, the economic recovery, and race relations, according to Williams, and he was well received.
Paul is not the first possible 2016 Republican contender to speak at Goldman’s Talks@GS series. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas appeared earlier in the year, Williams said. Cruz’s wife, Heidi, works in Goldman’s Houston office. Some past Democratic guests have included Rep. John Lewis and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, though the speaker series isn’t only political. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, basketball player Ray Allen, and designer Tory Burch have all recently addressed Goldman’s employees.
During his initial 2010 campaign, Paul ran a tea-party campaign infused by more-populist rhetoric. Back then, in an interview later posted to YouTube by Luke Rudkowski, Paul hawked his efforts to audit the Federal Reserve, saying one goal would be to “expose the people through an audit—maybe like Goldman Sachs and different banks that are making a lot of money off the U.S. taxpayer through these special deals they are getting with the Federal Reserve.”