Rand Paul calls Romney 2016 bid 'insanity.' Counterproductive?

It’s quite likely that Rand Paul, a possible presidential contender, would benefit if Mitt Romney runs. In fact, maybe the Kentucky senator should be encouraging Mitt to get the gang back together.

Jim Cole/AP
Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky meets with members of the Londonderry Fish and Game Club, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, in Litchfield, N.H. Paul is a possible Republican presidential candidate.

Rand Paul took a pretty sharp dig at possible/probable 2016 rival Mitt Romney on Wednesday. In an interview with the NH Journal, Senator Paul noted that this would be Mr. Romney’s third try at the Oval Office if he runs, and then said, “When you do the same thing and expect a different result, it’s sort of what Einstein said, that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.”

That’s right, Paul pretty much flat-out said that Romney would be bonkers to mount another presidential campaign.

Should he have said this? We think not.

Yes, it’s not far from what lots of Republicans are saying about Romney’s surprise interest in 2016. But technically speaking, it’s inaccurate. Trying something three times and expecting a different result is not the definition of insanity. If it were, everybody who is certain that they know their Netflix password, and that it will work this time if he or she just types it in harder, or more carefully, would be certifiable.

That’s millions of people.

Also, Einstein probably never said this. Like lots of stuff on the Internet, this is a quote that seems vaguely wise and is attributed to a famous person to give it extra power, but nobody really knows where it came from. Ben Franklin didn’t say it, either. Neither did Mark Twain.

But this is carping. The real reason Paul should not have resorted to this faux-Einstein chestnut is that it’s quite likely he (Paul) would benefit if Romney ran. He should be encouraging Mitt to get the gang back together. He should be offering to endorse Romney, or even run the sign-up papers down to the FEC if Romney has to stay home to wait for the car elevator repairman.

Why would Paul be better off with Romney re-redux? Long story short, Romney and Jeb Bush split the GOP establishment’s votes, money, and endorsements. Paul sticks with his own identifiable, libertarian niche. He’s a unique figure in the race, points out Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.

“As the field of potential Republican presidential candidates grows, few stand to benefit from the added competition as much as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul,” write the WSJ’s Janet Hook and Patrick O’Connor.

In particular, Romney could siphon support from Mr. Bush in the early-primary state of New Hampshire, where the former Massachusetts governor maintains a summer home. The Granite State is also fertile ground for Paul’s brand of libertarianism, meaning that he could pull off a surprise win or a strong second in the event of a Romney-Bush clash.

So where was Paul this week? You guessed it, touring New Hampshire’s diners and small venues, criticizing Common Core educational standards (which Bush supports), charging that lots of people who get federal disability checks are just “gaming the system,” and so on.

The Paul camp also announced that he’s hired a likely 2016 manager for the day-to-day operations of a campaign, strategist Chip Englander.

“I think [Romney] did a lot of things right, but in the end you got to have a bigger constituency, you got to get new people, you got to attract new people to win, and I think it’s time that probably the party is going to be looking for something fresh and new,” Paul said in a radio interview this week.

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