Rand Paul and the principle principle

by Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan, The Washington Post  |  published on March 7, 2013

rand paul

Rand Paul proved on Wednesday that a filibuster can be very good politics. In speaking for over 12 hours in opposition to the Obama Administration’s drone policy, Paul did more to boost his prospects as a 2016 presidential candidate than anything he has done since coming to the Senate from Kentucky in 2010.

What Paul proved during his “filiblizzard” — it hurts so good to write that — is that he is a politician with a) a core set of beliefs and b) a willingness to stand up for them.

That’s a rare thing in modern American politics where the tendency is to find where the public — or the primary electorate — is on a given issue and then find a way to get there.

“People of all backgrounds yearn for leaders who believe in what they say and will stand strong for their convictions,” said Jesse Benton, who managed Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign and is now serving as campaign manager for Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election race. “Senator Paul is one of those leaders, and the list of others is short.”

While the issue Paul chose — drones and, specifically, the possibility of strikes against American citizens in the U.S. — isn’t a high-profile one, it became clear as the Kentucky Republican talked (and talked) that he was creating a major moment for a party that hasn’t had very many of those since Nov. 6, 2012.

“It was one of the first examples in a long time of messaging that made the base feel like we had control of the day,” said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based Republican strategist. “Rand Paul’s stock price rose sharply today, and being the guy who set Obama on his heels — even for a day — will pay dividends for Paul in the short term, at least.”

Need evidence that Paul’s filibuster was paying political dividends? Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — a frontrunner for the 2016 GOP presidential nod — joined Paul on the Senate floor in both a symbolic show of support, and an acknowledgment of the power of the moment his colleague had created.

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