Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the current frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination. Of course, Bush hasn’t announced yet, but the odds are that he is in. His lead is not dominating. Bush can’t even break 20% in the crowded Republican field. If Mitt Romney enters the race, as he is currently hinting, it will become a two-man race. That doesn’t mean the rest of the field doesn’t have a chance. In the next tier, hovering around 10%, is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Rep. and former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan (who has recently announced that he will not run), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Why Carson is pulling around 8% is shocking and has more to do about the weakness of the Republican field than Carson’s political allure. Behind these candidates are even more at 5% and less.
The odds are that the candidate will be Bush, Romney, Christie, Huckabee or Paul. Bush, Romney and Christie occupy the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party. That’s usually where the nominee comes from. Huckabee has a lot of support from the religious right. The only chance that Huckabee has rests with the moderates splitting the vote. That may happen, but Huckabee would be creamed in the general election by the Democratic nominee. That leaves Rand Paul, and Paul is an interesting politician.
Paul is a bit of a wildcard in this race. He has the potential to end on the top tier of candidates. Paul has a close allegiance to the libertarian wing of the GOP from his father’s, Ron Paul, long association with libertarianism. That gives him a strong base of support. He isn’t close to the religious right like a crowded group of other candidates are, but does have connections to the Tea Party. Increasingly, he has presented a moderate image of late. For example, he is authoring a bill with liberal California Dem. Sen. Barbara Boxer that offers tax breaks for companies that bring overseas profits into the United States.
Although Paul is trying to appear as a sensible candidate, his cultivated image is far from some of his previous associations. Most notably, Paul has a long history with Mr. Conspiracy, Alex Jones. Jones claims to have interviewed Paul since 1995. Jones calls Paul “awesome.” Jones goes on to suggest that Paul is playing a moderate image, but in reality is more like Jones.
That is frightening because Jones has never found a conspiracy that he didn’t like: 9/11, New World Order, vaccinations, JFK assassination, the Boston Marathon bombing, etc. This is the tip of the iceberg of strange ideas and theories that float in Jones’ head.
Despite Jones’ reputation, he has pulled in respectable guests at times from the right and left. No reasonable politician or guest should ever appear on his show, but politicians and reason don’t always go together.
It would be easy to accept Paul as one of the guests who simply made a wrong decision by allowing himself to be interviewed by an extremist conspiracy thinker. The problem is that not all of those guests have the long history that exists between Jones and Paul. Plus, Jones doesn’t give high praise to everyone like he does to Paul. It’s enough to create a cloud of doubt. Jones’ conspiracies usually involve secret government operations, none of which have a shred of evidence. The thought that a candidate who has a chance at being president might buy into this craziness is frightening. Hopefully, that thought keeps enough voters away from Paul ever getting close to the Republican Party nomination.