Lost in all of the coverage of Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz is Rand Paul, who seems to have gone from serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination (though I never really thought he had much chance of winning) to irrelevant afterthought. Politico has an inside look at his floundering campaign.
Rand Paul, once seen as a top-tier contender, finds his presidential hopes fading fast as he grapples with deep fundraising and organizational problems that have left his campaign badly hobbled.
Interviews with more than a dozen sources close to the Kentucky senator, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, painted a picture of an underfunded and understaffed campaign beaten down by low morale.
They described an operation that pitted a cerebral chief strategist against an intense campaign manager who once got into a physical altercation with the candidate’s bodyguard. And they portrayed an undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win — a man who obsessed over trivial matters like flight times, peppered aides with demands for more time off from campaigning and once chose to go on a spring-break jaunt rather than woo a powerful donor.
They sketched a portrait of a candidate who, as he fell further behind in polls, no longer seemed able to break through. Paul, lionized as “the most interesting man in politics” in a Time magazine cover story last year, was supposed to reinvent the Republican Party with his message of free-market libertarianism, his vision of a restrained foreign policy and his outreach to minorities.
He’s raising very little money:
Easily the biggest problem confronting Paul is his fundraising — or lack thereof. Paul has taken in just $13 million, a fraction of what all of his major rivals for the Republican nomination have raised and far less than Paul hoped.
Those close to Paul say there’s a simple reason for his lack of success: He’s simply not willing to do the stroking and courting that powerful donors expect. He’s downright allergic, they say, to the idea of forging relationships with the goal of pumping people for dough. And while he’s had no shortage of opportunities to mix and mingle with some of the Republican Party’s wealthiest figures, Paul has expressed frustration that donors want so much face time.
He’s even turned away the Koch brothers. When the billionaire industrialists convene their network of conservative benefactors in Southern California this week, Republican candidates like Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker will be in attendance. But Paul won’t be. The senator, the Koch summit’s baffled organizers said, turned down an invitation. Paul has said he will instead be campaigning in Iowa.
While rival presidential candidates cultivate “sugar daddy” contributors, Paul doesn’t yet have one. Peter Thiel, the eccentric Northern California venture capitalist, had once been seen as the the kind of person who could give millions. But Thiel, who helped to fund Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, is now unlikely to be a major contributor. The senator had once lavished attention on the billionaire — the two had a long lunch meeting at the 2012 Republican National Convention — but no longer does. Since Paul launched his presidential campaign in April, one source said, his personal contacts with Thiel have been few and far between.
At times, Paul has simply seemed uninterested in playing the donor game. Earlier this year, the senator had agreed to speak at the Dialog Retreat, a gathering hosted by Auren Hoffman, a prominent investor with deep ties in the well-heeled Silicon Valley world. But just before he was to appear at Hoffman’s, Paul pulled out so that he could take his family on a spring-break excursion to Florida. Paul’s aides were aghast, realizing they’d missed an opportunity to cultivate the very type of donors likely to be receptive to his small-government philosophy.
It’s a very long article that goes into a lot more of the problems inside the campaign. I think it’s safe to say Rand Paul isn’t going to last long in the primary process. At this point, I doubt he even makes it to Iowa, and certainly not to Super Tuesday.