The generally likable winner of the CPAC straw poll who hates the NSA and has garnered support from college-aged libertarians has taken a turn for the worse.
First, despite his clear pro-life beliefs, Rand Paul implied he has little or no intention of supporting bans on abortion:
“The country is in the middle (and) we’re not changing any of the laws until the country is persuaded otherwise,” he says.
Paul talked about how abortion laws can and shoulder reflect a middle ground position on abortion between life beginning at conception and abortion on demand.
Then he adds that “Republicans” have gone too far with the voter fraud issue and has no problems with early voting:
Dead people do still vote in some elections. There still is some fraud. And so we should stop that, and one way of doing it is (driver’s licenses)…I think Republicans may have overemphasized this. I don’t know…I don’t think early voting is biased one way or the other. So I think eliminating it is a mistake for the — Republicans who want to make their whole thing eliminating early voting, I think that’s a mistake.
For Paul the consideration is: “Who's a bigger demographic?” If he wants young libertarians and minorities, backing away from social issues like abortion while also ignoring voter ID laws could make him a more palatable candidate. When 50 percent of young people consider themselves independents and 29 percent aren’t religiously affiliated, ditching the abortion debate looks savvy. Plus, loosening voter restrictions could entice immigrants.
However, about 24 percent of the U.S. population is Catholic and 26 percent is evangelical protestant Christian. No, these entire groups are not necessarily pro-life, but both camps tend to lean toward banning abortions. Not to mention Republicans tend to despise early voting, seeing it as another way to stuff the ballot boxes with fraudulent votes.
Sure these views won’t stop all red-meat GOPers from voting for him, but he risks ostracizing his base. I don’t agree with abandoning a candidate because he isn’t perfect, but many short-sighted Republicans will hand votes to the left on the grounds of “conscience”.
In other words, Paul’s new chatter is risky and perhaps better suited for a third-party political candidate. Even if he wants to expand beyond the GOP "base," he needs their votes to win.
He'd better tread carefully or he could lose ground long before 2016.