There can be little doubt that Rand Paul has spread his influence into more traditional pockets of the mainline Republican party. Politico reports:
Paul, who was elected to the Senate on the tea party wave of 2010, has spent much of his time since schmoozing with the GOP establishment. Last weekend, he invited media mogul Rupert Murdoch (who owns Fox News and The Wall Street Journal) to the Kentucky Derby with him – then allowed a New York Times reporter to chronicle it.
The weekend before, he went to the Maine Republican state convention to call for party unity.
“We had some folks that are categorized as ‘establishment’ or whatever, who told me that if Rand Paul could speak at every convention, I think everyone would see him as a mainstream guy,” Maine national committeeman Alex Willette said.
The day before that Maine speech, Paul was in Boston to speak at the Harvard Institute of Politics. He squeezed in a lunch with several members of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s brain trust.
At the same time Paul has made efforts to reach out to a variety of groups with which the GOP has struggled to find traction, including young people and racial minorities.
On Friday morning, for instance, he met for an hour with a group of African-American pastors. Afterward, Paul held a press conference to outline his push to get rid of mandatory minimum prison sentences, while advocating for school choice and the creation of economic opportunity zones.
“I want to compete for the African-American vote,” Paul said. “I’m about winning elections.”
Republican leader say the 2016 primary season calendar could favor Paul, especially the first four states.
Iowa holds caucuses that are likely to be friendlier to Paul than a primary. And in New Hampshire, Paul could benefit from the strong following there for his father.