What the Hell Happened to Rand Paul?

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Here is the guy who should be doing some cross-party fusion. He rallied a lot of Americans in bipartisan fashion on national security. He seemed to be playing his cards right. And . . . ? Bernie Sanders is kicking his butt in campaign fundraising. In fact, I dare say Sanders froze Paul’s chance at fusion. All the little rich libertine millennials that Paul was counting on, instead got excited for Sanders. But I am still really surprised by this.

Paul only raised $6.9 million. Ben Carson raised $10.6. And that is money raised by the candidate, not the Super PAC. The fact that a guy like Rand Paul, Mister Individualist, is having to depend on two outside Super PACs to raise money for him — and neither have released totals yet — is really surprising. I suspect it was a strategic miscalculation for Paul to enter the race when he did because it meant he could no longer coordinate with his Super PAC. Perhaps Ted Cruz’s strategy of jumping in early stroked Paul’s ego in a way that forced a strategic mistake. As long as Paul did not formally declare, he could fundraise with the Super PACs. But the moment Cruz got in, Paul felt compelled to jump in too.

To be fair, most of Paul’s contributions are less than $200.00 a piece. That shows he has some real grassroots support. But that’s not enough. He got in Mitch McConnell’s bed in Kentucky and McConnell made kissy face through his re-election. The moment McConnell’s victory was secure he kicked Paul out of the bed. Paul has misplayed his hand on social issues and, for large donors, national security issues too.

The blunt fact of the matter is that between Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, it turns out the base loves Cruz more. Cruz raised $14.3 million to Paul’s $6.9 million, excluding SuperPAC dollars. Cruz is second in the GOP race, behind Bush, with Super PAC dollars and it does not seem Rand Paul will beat him when his Super PACs finally show what they raised.

I am genuinely surprised by this. Rand Paul should be doing much better. He actually has a good story. He actually has positions that set him apart from the GOP field. He has a built in base of support from his father. But remarkably it appears Rand Paul will be less a factor on 2016 than his dad was in 2012. I really never expected that. And not only that, if you pay attention to the campaign schedule, Paul is marching to the beat of his own drummer in ways that suggest the drummer isn’t really headed toward the White House. Michigan? Really?

What the hell happened?

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Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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