Rand Paul has had a good year.
Last April, the Kentucky Republican made it onto Time’s list of the 100 most influential people with an endorsement from Sarah Palin, who noted that she “sent him some caribou jerky from Alaska” to help give him strength.
This year, Paul appears on the Time 100 again. But instead of getting an entry written by a politician on the decline, Paul’s endorsement comes from the lawmaker who leads the Republican Party in the Senate, and could well wind up as the chamber’s majority leader in less than a year.
Paul, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell writes, is “beating the bushes for anyone who prizes liberty, and he’s forcing people to rethink the Republican Party.” McConnell also got in a semi-veiled dig at one of Paul’s potential 2016 competitors, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, by praising Paul for not speaking ill of his fellow Republicans. McConnell’s come a long way from supporting Paul’s primary opponent in 2010. The Time entry itself is titled “The libertarian champion,” and is just about as raving a review as you’d ever see one politician give another.
It’s especially raving compared with how Paul endorsed McConnell for his Senate campaign this year. Because, while McConnell may need Paul in his reelection fight, Paul isn’t necessarily publicly pleading for the leader’s support.
In Paul’s telling, McConnell isn’t quite beating any shrubbery of freedom. When asked by Glenn Beck back in February why Paul was endorsing the minority leader in his GOP primary, Paul said he was going to campaign for McConnell because “he asked me when there was nobody else in the race.” Paul later clarified that he sees McConnell as “an important ally and a conservative voice in Washington.” Paul followed up that endorsement by dodging a question about it at a community forum last week in Kentucky.
In response to the Time 100 endorsement, a spokesperson for Rand Paul said that the senator “is excited to be a part of the national debate and is very appreciative of the kind words from his friend and colleague Sen. McConnell.”
As Paul spends more and more time crafting his national image ahead of a possible presidential campaign, it’s clear that he’s interested in more power and influence than McConnell could possibly give him in the Senate. But McConnell, in his courtship of the libertarian wing of his party, still has a lot to gain from Paul. Writing glowing tributes in a major national magazine may be a good start.
This article was updated with comment on Time 100 from Sen. Paul’s office.
What We're Following See More »
Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 drug offenders on Thursday. Most of the convicts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs or possession with intent to distribute. Many of the sentences were commuted to expire next year, but some will run longer. Others are required to enroll in residential drug treatment as a condition of their release.
The Department of Justice announced today it's charged "61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States through fraudulent schemes that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."
Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."