Opinion

Rand Paul exits; what about his supporters?

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, here with his wife Kelley this week, suspended his presidential campaign Wednesday.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, here with his wife Kelley this week, suspended his presidential campaign Wednesday. AP

The natural selection of the Republican primary continues. Moments ago, Rand Paul announced the suspension of his campaign.

In a statement, he said:

“It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.

Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.”

Paul finished fifth in the crowded Iowa caucus field with 4 percent of the vote. That’s not a big number, but it’s not inconsequential in a tight race. Where that support will go is hard to predict, because Paul isn’t ideologically aligned with any of the frontrunners. He sparred with Marco Rubio over surveillance and data collection in debates, and he cautioned against the saber-rattling of Ted Cruz and others. He saved his sharpest barbs, though, for Donald Trump, exposing the frontrunner’s weakness on policy detail.

In each case, Paul served as a bit of a truth-teller in debates, reminding Republicans that talking tough is easy, but policy has consequences. That, of course, doomed him as a candidate.

Peter St. Onge

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