Rand Paul is getting things rolling early in Iowa, whose 2016 presidential nominating caucuses are still nearly four years away. The Kentucky Republican will be the keynoter at the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual Lincoln Day dinner on May 10 in Cedar Rapids.
The Des Moines Register takes note of the appointment — in a state whose Republicans ranked Paul’s father No. 3 in the 2012 caucuses — as a measure of how popular was the senator’s 13-hour drone-protesting filibuster on the Senate floor during the confirmation of John Brennan for CIA director. So says the party chairman.
The family already has a following there — Paul’s father Ron ran No. 3 in the 2012 caucuses in a close contest belatedly handed to former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. And the son is coming out of the American Conservative Union’s CPAC last weekend, where he narrowly placed first among many with 25 percent of the ballots in a straw poll that carries considerably less meaning than even Iowa’s Straw Poll.
The Register quotes a Republican operative as calling the Iowa party “little more than a ‘Paul for President’ outpost.” State party chairman A.J. Spiker explained that Paul’s filibuster was his ticket: “As the first-in-the-nation state, we immediately extended an invite to Senator Paul to allow him to introduce himself to Iowa Republicans,” Spiker said in a statement.
Santorum, not one to take no for an answer, is making his own Iowa appearances in April — a double-header on Tax Day, with lunch at the The John Paul II Medical Research Institute’s “Give Cures” event in Des Moines, and the other as keynoter at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that night at the Des Moines Christian School.
The Lincoln Dinner’s the big date, though. Others who have spoken include former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the 2008 caucus winner, and Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Paul’s already talking about his date:
“People do get more attention when they go to Iowa,” Rand Paul says on CNN.
— John McCormick (@McCormickJohn) March 19, 2013.
Coyly, that is:
RT @cbellantoni: Wolf to Rand Paul: “Are you running for president?” Paul: “I haven’t made a decision.”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) March 19, 2013