Presidential candidate Ron Paul is skipping the annual CPAC event this year, allegedly because of scheduling conflicts. Don’t worry, though, there’s always that back-up Paul: Senator Rand Paul, and boy, did he put on a show last night.
Rather than lecturing the audience on pure Libertarian policies and bipartisan cooperation, as his father may have, Senator Paul chose instead to keep his energy focused on President Obama, who he accused of participating in crony capitalism.
“Do you hate all rich people? Do you hate all poor people?” Paul rhetorically asked the president, before answering his own question with more than a touch of sarcasm. “The president doesn’t really hate all rich people, just those who don’t contribute to his campaign.”
“If you’re a crony, if you’re a buddy, just stop by the White House,” he said after pointing to Obama backer George Kaiser, whose independent family foundation invested in failed solar panel company Solyndra, which received a $535 million government loan guarantee before going bankrupt.
But Obama wasn’t Paul’s only target. The 49-year old Tea Party favorite — and scourge of the TSA — also turned a bit of attention to the Republican Party, declaring, “Even our party has yet to grasp the significance and imminence of this coming debt crisis. It’s coming.”
“It will take bold leadership. This is why I always have said the Republican Party is an empty vessel unless we imbue it with values,” he told the crowd, according to The Hill. “We have to believe in something. It will take someone who’s able to transform the boldest of austerity into the warm, vibrant embrace of prosperity. We’re in the process of discovering who that leader will be. My hope is that in the search for that leader, we also will rediscover the passion for individual liberty that made America great.”
It is clear Rand Paul ceded the CPAC stage so that his son could make a name for himself. “It’s an open secret in the Paul world that the family has big future plans for Rand, the junior senator from Kentucky,” writes Rosie Gray at Buzzfeed. “Rand’s speech made it seem as though his father’s absence is less about scheduling and more about the Pauls’ priorities. Ron Paul is done after this election cycle, but Rand could be just getting started.”
While this may be good news for Ron Paul’s fans, it’s obvious the younger son plans on charting his own course, one that may be more traditionally Republican than many of them would hope.