After Rand Paul raised another $600,000 for his campaign during the 4th quarter, Kentucky Secretary of State and establishment favorite Trey Grayson had to know that he was in trouble. This is especially true considering the National Republican Senatorial Committee threw another big money fundraiser for Grayson and he still couldn’t keep up with the modest donations Rand Paul receives over the internet. A fundraiser last Wednesday, December 16, on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, yielded over $260,000 with the average donation continuing to be less than $100 for the Bowling Green doctor.
In November, Rand Paul was polling within the margin of error with Grayson in a WHAS poll. Now Rand Paul leads Grayson in another poll, this one conducted by Public Policy Polling where the former leads 54-18 among people who consider the GOP too liberal. Clearly Rand Paul is gaining the support of grassroots activists. He is not getting big donations and he is passing the litmus test on whether he’s an empty suit politician or a true conservative who refuses to play the “Me Too” game that the Republican Party has played since the glory days of Alf Landon.
For months, the secretary of state’s website was dormant on the issues. He probably figured he didn’t need to worry about forming his platform until after he coasted to the nomination. But since Rand Paul has been such a tireless campaigner traveling all across the Commonwealth and reaching disaffected voters for the better part of the year, and with better-than-expected poll numbers, he might just pull off the shocker.
Needless to say, Trey Grayson is getting pretty angry that his token challenger is not following the script and allowing Trey to coast to the primary victory; his coronation might have to be called off altogether.
It’s already been discussed here, at rather great length, that the Establishment is doing all it can to make sure that Rand Paul stays in Bowling Green in 2010, where he belongs. A county party chairman supporting Grayson went to the trouble to concoct a juvenile website, Too Kooky for Kentucky, to show how dangerous Rand Paul is. But in trying to show how loony Rand Paul and his views are, the chairman comes off as childish.
The newest controversy involves the now-former campaign coordinator of the Rand Paul campaign, Chris Hightower.
Last week, the liberal blog Barefoot and Progressive, broke a story about a myspace page attributed to Mr. Hightower features a picture of a lynched man accompanied by a racial epithet.
Chris Hightower quickly said, "I definitely deny anything that has anything to do with that. It’s not me. I’m definitely not a racist." He resigned from the campaign within a day.
But Hightower's explanation seems plausible. The controversial content was posted by someone else. It was plain to see that Mr. Hightower did not post the scurrility, only that he did not delete it – a consistently libertarian thing to do (although claiming that he's never had a myspace page is a different matter). I myself have never deleted a facebook, myspace, or blog comment before. I support free speech, too, even when it’s ugly.
But even though it was a liberal blogger who dug up the thought crime of a John Doe, it certainly works to the benefit of Trey Grayson. What better way to continue the smearing of Rand Paul than to suggest that the candidate himself has poor judgment because of the way a campaign staffer polices a personal social networking website page. As Rand Paul told WBKO (ABC) News in Bowling Green about the irony of the incident: "I think we live in an era where we’re responsible for what even other people post on your website."
This also shows the lengths that the Grayson campaign will go to in order to scare Kentucky Republican voters away from Rand Paul.
Grayson himself used this as a springboard for denouncing Rand Paul’s “disturbing views” on national security with “Rand Paul: Dangerous for Kentucky.”
While people might get distracted by "Myspacegate," supporters of Rand Paul should take notice that something else was in play. Perhaps Trey Grayson wasn’t necessarily interested in exploiting the racism of some acquaintance of a staffer’s. Perhaps he used this controversy as an opportunity to misrepresent Rand Paul’s views on foreign policy and national security, a contentious divide between the platforms of the two candidates.
Here’s what the secretary of state himself had to say on his website:
"However, when pressed by the Louisville Courier-Journal if he agreed or disagreed with Hightower's belief that the United States government was responsible for the attacks on September 11th, Rand Paul's campaign said it was a 'complicated situation' with 'truth on both sides.'"
"'Let me help you find the truth, Rand, if you can handle it. The attacks on 9/11 were pre-meditated and carried out by terrorists who wanted to disrupt the American way of life,' said Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson. 'This is a foolish and dangerous position that continues the pattern of disturbing views from the Paul campaign. His views on national security have been as consistent as they have been misguided.'
So perhaps the issue is not about the political correctness of myspace content, but the chance to paint Chris Hightower, and through association, Rand Paul, as something much more dangerous to the Republican Establishment: a 9/11 Truther.
But Trey Grayson counts on readers to not read the Courier-Journal article where Hightower is accused of being a "Truther."
The image the Grayson campaign wants to create is one that paints Rand Paul as a weird, kooky guy who has a high-level staffer who believes the U.S. government deliberately flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Rather, what Chris Hightower said, in a letter to the editor, was
"My goodness, how soon some people forget we invaded them … do you not remember when we installed a foreign leader in Iran in the 1950s, do you not remember putting military bases in Saudi Arabia? Or, perhaps, you have forgotten the attack on Iraq in the Persian Gulf War, and the continued arming of Israel."
What we learn here is that Trey Grayson is more than content to continue peddling the government-approved version of the cause of terrorism: They hate us because we’re free and anyone who thinks there is any other reason is loony, unpatriotic, and un-American.
So regardless of whether Chris Hightower harbors any sympathy at all with a moronic statement left on a myspace page is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Grayson is struggling at the polls and knows it. The only recourse they have now is the only one they’ve had this whole time: fear.
Fear Rand Paul because he doesn’t have GOP-approved views on foreign policy. Fear Rand Paul because he knows somebody who might know somebody who is a racist. Fear Rand Paul because he has curly hair.
Trey Grayson wants voters to think Rand Paul is dangerous. That’s true. Rand Paul is dangerous. For Trey Grayson.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
with the author
The temperature outside was frigid but there was a warm blanket of political activity inside "Rookie's Sports Bar" in downtown Henderson, Kentucky where U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul met with over 50 of his supporters, including the author of this blog.
Largely an informal event, the senate candidate feared and loathed by the establishment was all smiles as he got to meet with a diverse cast of his supporters. Young and old, black and white, people came out to hear the doctor from Bowling Green talk about balanced budgets, lowering taxes, term limits, and the value of the dollar. As another attendee remarked to me, we didn't hear a single worn-out Republican catchphrase. Rather, the candidate pointed out that President Obama is easy to target and that the real challenge is to get the Republican Party back in shape. It doesn't matter if we harass the president for being reckless with the nation's finances when Republicans do no better themselves.
In a sight inconceivable two years ago when Rand Paul’s father was running for president, the would-be senator is actually a viable candidate and has reason to be upbeat. The last poll conducted in November had Rand within the margin of error against the one-time presumptive candidate, Trey Grayson. The primary is still six months away and despite the rantings of cranky party chairmen, Rand Paul is not too kooky for a lot of folks in Kentucky.
The candidate, before and after his speech, took time to engage with nearly every attendee. In an act that didn't go unnoticed, the candidate was not "fashionably late" or any other euphemism to justify why his time is more important than that of his supporters, but was actually at the venue before the scheduled time. In that same vein, when the candidate departed, it was not flanked by highly-paid suits, but by carrying the boxes of his campaign materials himself.
If the bright mood of the candidate, the money he continues to rake in, and discontent among the ruling party are any indications, then the eye surgeon from Bowling Green will be doing a lot of smiling in 2010.
As anyone in attendance on Thursday Night knew, he has already left a significant imprint in the lives of many of his fellow Kentuckians.