Rand Paul, Libertarians, Republicans, Social Conservatives,

by Chris Moody, Yahoo News  |  published on February 7, 2014

For many, the word that comes to mind when they hear the name Rand Paul is likely “libertarian.” While he gladly embraces the label, Paul brands himself as more a pragmatist than purist, and he’s seeking a way to bring libertarians and social conservatives—long warring cousins on the right—together.

If successful, Paul’s effort could be the start of a fresh form of fusionism on the right that could be a significant asset if he seeks the White House in 2016.

Instead of adopting a hard line on issues like drug legalization and non-interventionism like his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the younger Paul speaks about these topics in a way he hopes will spark collaboration instead of squabbling. And it seems to be working.

Paul’s efforts were on display Wednesday night at a gala for the American Principles Project, a conservative group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and aims to promote religious liberty. The group’s board includes Maggie Gallagher, one of the foremost advocates against same-sex marriage and Robert P. George, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. APP is led by Francis P. Cannon, a conservative activist who authored a rebuttal report last year to calls within the Republican Party to de-emphasize social issues.

Speaking to a few hundred APP supporters at Washington, D.C.’s Mayflower hotel, Paul, knowing his audience, began by conceding that “libertarian,” is still “a bad word” to some. A few in the audience nodded.

“But libertarian, or liberty, doesn’t mean libertine,” Paul said. “To many of us, libertarian means freedom and liberty. But we also see freedom needs tradition.”

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