Sen. Rand Paul, who generated an outpouring of support among many conservatives and libertarians by launching a 13-hour filibuster on the floor of the U.S. Senate in an attempt to block President Barack Obama’s nominee for CIA Director and draw attention to the secretive drone “kill list” assassination program being run out of the White House, captivated the 2013 CPAC gathering with his rousing speech on Thursday.
In his CPAC speech, Sen. Rand Paul strongly advocated libertarian principles as the salvation for renewing the GOP, while simultaneously highlighting the increasing irrelevancy of the establishment wing of the Republican Party, by saying:
“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don't think we need to name any names, do we? Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom. The new GOP will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we're going to have a Republican party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP. We must have a message that is broad, our vision must be broad, and that vision must be based on freedom.”
The straw poll results were close, with Sen. Rand Paul narrowly defeating Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida by a 25 percent to 23 percent margin. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, an unsuccessful 2012 Republican presidential primary candidate, finished third with 8 percent.
The 2013 CPAC straw poll results confirm this informative list of the Top 5 GOP Rising Stars for the 2016 Presidential Nomination compiled by this Examiner as a resource chronicling the resurgence of the conservative movement.
Sen. Rand Paul will likely attract the key electoral demographic of younger voters back to the GOP in the 2016 elections, a constituency that was lost to the party in 2012 with the failed Mitt Romney candidacy.
Although the 2016 elections are still nearly four years away, the nominating process will begin openly shortly after the 2014 midterm elections.
As the Republican establishment struggles to understand the reasons for its embarrassing losses in the 2012 elections, Sen. Rand Paul offers a compelling case that is likely to ignite the energy of the Tea Party activists and Libertarians that helped elect him to the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Likewise, fellow Tea Party favorite and runner-up in the 2013 CPAC straw poll, Sen. Marco Rubio defeated former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the 2010 senate race, despite Crist being the chosen candidate of the Republican establishment.
The Republican establishment candidates won more primary battles in the 2012 cycle, yet lost an astounding ten crucial senate races, as shown in the article: Top 10 Establishment Republicans Who Lost Senate Races In 2012.
While both candidates are sitting U.S. senators who won office with the support of Tea Party activists by triumphing over powerful establishment Republican opponents, Paul and Rubio each possess appeal that would repair the damage the GOP has endured among certain voting demographics.
Sen. Marco Rubio, who is a son of Cuban immigrants, presents Latino voters with a strong conservative voice that could undo the negative perceptions created by Mitt Romney’s ill-advised “self-deportation” policy during the 2012 election.
Sen. Rand Paul is certain to bring younger voters into the GOP tent with his pro-freedom, libertarian ideology in much the same way as his father, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, did during his two presidential campaigns.
Sen. Rand Paul’s generational appeal stirred the passion of activists at the 2013 CPAC, making him the true star of the convention. In the 2016 elections, that appeal could carry him all the way to the White House.
Steven Holmes is the Los Angeles Political Buzz Examiner.