The implicit calculation behind the buzz for a 2016 Rand Paul presidential bid is that he begins with his father’s intense base of support (most everywhere) and fundraising network, and can crucially add to that via personal characteristics (and superior timing) which lift him over an intangible but very real threshold of credibility.

National Review‘s Robert Costa, one of the best analysts of conservative movement politics, sees this working already in Iowa, where Paul will be the keynote speaker at the state party’s annual fundraiser later this week (the event is already sold out):

A year ago, Ron Paul finished third in the caucuses after pouring considerable resources and time into the state — a major disappointment. But it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Paul never had the early, unofficial blessing that his son is being given. Social conservatives and business leaders were firmly in other camps, and national publications barely covered the congressman’s early trips to Sioux City and Waterloo. These days, Iowa’s Republican grandees may not be working for the younger Paul, but they’ve cheered his ascent.

It’s a mixed blessing for Rand Paul that his father’s acolytes won control of the Iowa GOP state party apparatus after the Caucuses; they’ve often rubbed other Republicans the wrong way, but on the other hand, they can pretty much make sure Paul has a seat at every table.

I have no idea if the Paulites actually use this terminology, but it’s pretty clear that while Ron Paul was their movement’s Moses, he was never going to reach the Promised Land of a presidential nomination. There were too many lonely “no” votes, too much association with racists and other crazy people; too many abrasive foreign policy speeches. In Rand Paul, the Joshua Generation of the Ron Paul Revolution is coming to the fore very rapidly. No wonder the guy’s all but running for president three years after his first run for any office.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.