Friday, September 19, 2014

Rand Paul backers tolerate interventionist rhetoric

Libertarians give Paul a pass - - Katie Glueck with Kenneth P. Vogel:

September 19, 2014 - "Rand Paul insists he’s not an isolationist. Luckily for him, many in his libertarian base are willing to let him keep saying that....

"In more than a dozen interviews at a libertarian conference this week in Alexandria, Virginia, many attendees said they understand if Paul, who recently came out in favor of airstrikes against militants in Iraq, has to hedge on some issues to gain broader appeal — but that they still believe he’s one of them at heart.... [A]t this week’s Liberty Political Action Conference, it was clear that, for now, Paul maintains a large reservoir of support even among the most hardcore libertarians.

"More than 600 ardent libertarian activists gathered for the event, which is tied to Ron Paul, who is idolized at LPAC. Those gathered were far from mainstream Republicans....  Yet they represent an energetic segment of the grass roots that would be vital to a Rand Paul presidential bid....

"Rand Paul ... has sought to explain — with some success in the broader Republican Party — that being cautious about intervention doesn’t equate to isolationism.... He has held meetings with some of the most hawkish donors in the GOP, has visited Israel and made other overtures to that wing, including bringing on Lorne Craner, who served in former President George W. Bush’s State Department and worked for Sen. John McCain, to serve as a foreign policy adviser....

"But in private meetings with major libertarian-oriented donors on the sidelines of an Americans for Prosperity activist summit in Dallas late last month, Paul affirmed his noninterventionist views, and contrasted them with those of his more hawkish prospective 2016 rivals, according to people familiar with the sessions. They said the message was well received, since many top AFP donors — including the billionaire Koch brothers — opposed the Iraq War and generally bristled at the Bush administration’s aggressive foreign policy.

"Paul has tried to make the case that, when it comes to foreign affairs, intervention should be done cautiously and on a case-by-case basis.... 'He’s a conservative realist who will look at each situation,' said Doug Stafford, a senior political adviser to the senator."

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