For Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, his Wednesday night speech at the Republican National Convention is not just a prominent speaking slot. It represents a symbolic passing of the torch from father to son, and an opportunity to forge a deeper connection with the mainstream of the party than Ron Paul ever did.
Paul is his father’s son. He has carried on the fight for auditing the Federal Reserve, which is now part of the Republican platform. He has extended that call to auditing the Pentagon, one part of the government that is sacrosanct to many Republicans. Senator Paul has opposed foreign wars in Iraq and Libya, while demanding any conflict be authorized by a congressional declaration.
But the younger Paul has also emerged as a leader in the broader tea party. His 2010 Kentucky primary victory over a candidate handpicked by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was one of that movement’s biggest triumphs over the GOP establishment. Unlike his father, Rand Paul adjusts his stump speech for different audiences and is comfortable delivering conservative red meat.
Paul may have previewed his line of attack against President Barack Obama in the GOP weekly address Saturday. “As the president campaigns against those who succeeded, as the president vilifies those who employ millions of workers, he condemns the very system that made America great,” Paul said. “Today there is a war going on for the heart and soul of America, a war between those who believe in the American dream and those who cannot grasp what makes America great.”