Rand Paul Opens the ’16 Cycle

Today’s a big day for Rand Paul: he’s in Iowa, where he will address a sold-out crowd at the Iowa Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner.

A bit earlier in the day, he will attend the little-publicized (it’s closed to media) but very important “Pastors and Pews” event in Des Moines, organized by David Lane and largely funded by the famously homophobic American Family Association. This is the first big Iowa Christian Right networking session on the long road to the 2016 Iowa Caucuses; a similar initiative, dubbed “Pastors’ Policy Briefings,” played a big role in the 2008 and 2012 GOP nominating contests.

So Paul, whose father finished third in Iowa in 2012, and who is benefitting from a Paulite takeover of the Iowa GOP apparatus later in that year, is working both the outside and inside games pretty hard. And it’s not like he’s having to come out of nowhere or overcome a fringe reputation like Ron did in his presidential contests: an early poll of past Iowa Caucus attendees released on Monday showed Paul the heavy front-runner for 2016, with 39% support as opposed to 20% for Marco Rubio, 11% for Chris Christie, and 10% for Jeb Bush (with Bobby Jindal and Condi Rice at 3% each).

By all accounts, Rand Paul is already running for president, scarcely bothering with the usual coy talk or the pretense that a man who won his first electoral contest–the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky–just under three years ago might need some seasoning. That’s how you roll when you are the heir to an intense ideological dynasty, and also think you uniquely represent the views of the Founding Fathers of America and their God.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.