Old Guard

Floundering Old Guard Republicans re-launch attacks on Rand Paul

Back in March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) propelled himself to the forefront of Republican politics when he led an inspiring 13-hour filibuster against the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan.

For the entirety of his procedural protest, Paul and several of his colleagues, most notably Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), highlighted the constitutional problems with President Barack Obama’s drones policy, which is largely consistent with the views of his hawkish predecessor and many of today’s conservatives. Paul would go onto win the CPAC straw poll the following week and has been a frequent voice of opposition to the Washington political establishment on foreign policy.

The reaction from the Old Guard Republicans was expected. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) both sided with President Obama on drones and foreign policy and admonished Paul from the Senate floor with the latter referring to his colleague from Kentucky a “wacko bird.” Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, called Paul’s foreign policy views “dangerous” and tried to label him as an “neo-isolationist.” Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s token Republican, has also taken shots at Paul on foreign policy, though with little effect.

The Potential of Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul

Following the 2012 presidential election, many Republicans found themselves in a state of shock. To lose to a president whose policies had not only been controversial but had failed to stifle an enduring economic downturn seemed implausible. There were no doubt countless conservative voters who joined an incredulous Bill O’Reilly the next day asking, “What the heck happened last night?” In recent weeks, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has provided an answer.

In the wake of his 13-hour filibuster and narrow victory in CPAC’s presidential straw poll last weekend, the freshmen senator has become an overnight sensation in American politics. Though much of the support for his dramatic defense of due process may have been partisan at first, it has generated a groundswell of soul-searching within the Republican Party.Conservatives have failed to provide a message that resonated with voters since the Bush administration and they have two failed presidential campaigns to show for it.

John McCain may finally retire

John McCain

After 27 long years on Capitol Hill and two failed presidential bids, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) may finally be ready to retire. The Hill picked up on comments that the Arizona senator made during a recent interview:

The 77-year-old’s current term is up in 2016. When asked if this would really be his last term, McCain backtracked a bit.

“Nah, I don’t know,” McCain said. “I was trying to make a point. I have to decide in about two years so I don’t have to make a decision. I don’t want to be one of these old guys that should’ve shoved off.”

McCain made the initial remark about retirement off-the-cuff to a group of Obama supporters who interrupted the interview as he was arguing that television providers should unbundle their channels.

Yes, please?

McCain has long been a thorn in the side of conservatives and libertarians, voting for bloated budgets and pushing unpopular positions on a number of policies. Just this year alone, he opposed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on drones, backed more onerous gun control measures, and tried to help Senate Democrats push their big spending budget into a conference with the House without a guarantee against a stealth debt limit increase.

Christie, Paul dust up is about the future of the Republican Party

We’ve already seen Republicans lash out at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) due to his strong, influential advocacy for civil liberties, which is a break from Bush-era GOP orthodoxy. But we may have gotten a look last week at how it’ll play into the 2016 race for the party’s nomination.

During a panel on Thursday at the Aspen Institute, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who has had quite the bromance with President Barack Obama, strongly spoke out against the growing libertarian tilt in the country, including both political parties, and, of course, invoked 9/11 in the process:

“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said during a panel discussion with several other Republican governors at the Aspen Institute.

Asked if he was referring specifically to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the Republican perhaps most closely associated with a libertarian platform on defense issues and a potential rival of Christie’s in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, the New Jersey Republican replied, “You can name any number of people, and he’s one of them.”

“These esoteric, intellectual debates - I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have,” he added.

“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on September 12, 2001.”

South Carolina conservatives launch “Defeat Lindsey Graham”

A group of grassroots conservatives are hoping to send Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) back to South Carolina because of his big government voting record.

Carolina Conservatives United has launched a campaign targeting Graham and rolled out a new ad that paints the him as inconsistent and out of touch with the values of the state on a number of issues, including civil liberties and immigration. Bruce Carroll, chairman of Carolina Conservatives United, pointed to Graham’s voting record and “contempt” for grassroots, limited government activists as the reason for the group taking action in advance of next year’s primary.

“As residents of South Carolina and grassroots activists in the conservative movement, we are concerned not only about Lindsey Graham’s voting record on important issues but also the contempt he regularly displays toward small-government conservative citizens,” said Carroll in a statement from the organization. “We never know which Lindsey Graham will show up in Washington each day. He’s more likely to side with liberal Senate Democrats on important votes than with Senator Tim Scott or the South Carolina Republican Congressional delegation.”

Wyoming Republicans underwhelmed by Liz Cheney’s primary

Liz Cheney

There a quite a primary fight brewing in Wyoming that highlight the divisions in the Republican Party. Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced last week that she is going to challenge Sen. Mike Enzi in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Wyoming.

This isn’t an ordinary primary challenge. Though an incumbent, Enzi has a fairly conservative record. His has a lifetime score of 82% from FreedomWorks and 71% from the Club for Growth. Enzi’s biggest stumble recently was his legislative push for the online sales tax, which was opposed by Tea Party and grassroots organizations.

While Enzi’s voting record isn’t as good as it could be, Cheney isn’t like the primary challengers we’ve seen over the last couple of cycles. Tea Party primary challengers threatened Old Guard Republicans, calling into question big spending and the misguided foreign policy that was so prevalent during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Cheney’s argument for running against Enzi are sort of peculiar. She doesn’t question his credentials or even his record. There are no fundamental differences of which to speak between the two. Her argument for his run is, essentially, that Enzi is too old.

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