RAND PAUL, NOT EXACTLY ‘FORTHRIGHT’…. Kentucky’s Senate hopeful, right-wing ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R), used to be quite candid about his radical political beliefs. Social Security? It’s a Ponzi scheme. Medicare? Obviously socialism. The Civil Right Act and Fair Housing Act? Both are examples of abusive government intervention.

But as the Senate election draws closer, Paul’s extremism has been muted. Talking to National Review, the Republican candidate effectively conceded he’s trying to keep the truth from the public in order to get votes.

“No one [in the Republican Party] is forcing me to do anything. I do exactly what I want, but I am also realistic about what it takes to run a campaign and get elected.”

For instance, instead of calling for the elimination of many federal departments — as his father, Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican congressman and former presidential candidate, regularly does — Paul says he is trying to “nibble around the edges,” to “not be the person who says he will eliminate every department in the federal government. My dad freely will say that, that he would eliminate at least half of the departments, but he is just more forthright.”

As a rule, candidates for statewide office don’t admit to being less forthright, but Rand Paul is special. He could talk about his actual beliefs during the campaign, and try to persuade the public that he’s correct, but the far-right Kentuckian has decided it’s much easier to hide his principles to win votes.

Of course, Rand Paul wasn’t always a Senate candidate. Back in the 1990s, he appeared on several episodes of “Kentucky Tonight,” a state-based public affairs show, and “talked about the elderly dying at the hands of Medicare rationing; the need to privatize Social Security, which he called ‘a Ponzi scheme;’ and the rights of the government to invest in racist companies.” In one episode, he even equated Medicare with the Soviet Union.

Voters won’t hear much about this during the election — Paul just isn’t “forthright” enough.

On a related note, Paul also insisted recently that he’s running to help Kentucky get a better return on its federal tax dollars. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, “When tax money flows to the nation’s capitol, half stays there, half is wasted and half of it goes to political cronyism, Paul said.”

Putting aside the fact that a dollar can’t have three halves, Alan Pyke reminds the right-wing candidate, “When Kentucky sends a tax dollar to Washington, it does miraculously turn into three-halves of a dollar. Kentucky gets at least $1.51 back from the federal government for every $1.00 that it contributes to the nation, placing it near the top of state rankings. Paul is in effect saying that if he is Kentucky’s next Senator, he will work to reduce his state’s share of federal spending, thus hurting his own constituents.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.