Rand Paul on 2016: Why the GOP candidate says he's not going anywhere
Despite scrutiny of his weakening poll numbers and disappointing fundraising, the Kentucky senator says he's here to stay.
It’s been a tough week for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
The Republican presidential candidate has spent the week explaining why his campaign still even exists, appearing on outlet after outlet to defend himself from speculation that weakening poll numbers and a cash-strapped campaign would – or should – lead him to drop out.
This week, fellow GOP candidate Donald Trump mocked Sen. Paul on Twitter, writing, “Rand Paul has been driven out of the race by my statements about him – he will announce soon.”
Asked to respond during an interview with CNN, Paul shrugged off Mr. Trump’s comments.
“I guess it’s part of his bravado, his shtick,” he said. “But I’ll tell you this: I think we’ll be around just as long as Trump, or longer.”
But Trump isn’t the only one broadcasting these predictions. The senator raised just $2.5 million this quarter, a disappointing showing that adds insult to injury as polls peg his support at a national average of 2.4 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.
CNBC, which will host the next Republican debate on Oct. 28, has said that candidates polling at an average of 3 percent in the five-week period beforehand will secure a spot onstage.
And one of the three super PACs behind Paul’s presidential run has lost confidence in the candidate, saying publicly it has refused to keep raising money, reports Politico.
Ed Crane, who cofounded libertarian think tank the Cato Institute and heads up a group named PurplePAC, said he believed the senator had abandoned his libertarian views.
“I have stopped raising money for him until I see the campaign correct its problems,” said Mr. Crane to Politico. “I wasn’t going to raise money to spend on a futile crusade.”
Before that, PurplePAC had helped raise around $1.2 million, nearly half of Paul’s total haul this quarter.
Paul’s greatest strength in appealing to voters across the board – a distinctive world view and message – can also be his greatest weakness, The Christian Science Monitor's Francine Kiefer reported earlier this year, as Paul's ideological standpoints can also be alienating to some voters.
For now, however, “the message from Paulworld is that the bad times are over,” The Washington Post wrote this week.
Based on interviews with the senator’s campaign team, the Post reports:
As of this week, the campaign has at least one county chair in all 99 Iowa counties, winning them over even as Paul's support was mired in the single digits. It has added new staff in the caucus state of Nevada, where it is currently holding onto an endorsement from a Republican state legislator who was reportedly switching to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
There are no layoffs, no triage plans, for a staff of more than 40 people, which was always designed to be lean. No one, according to the campaign, has been asked to take a pay cut or an IOU.
“I think the rumors of my demise are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least,” Paul said Sunday in an interview with Fox News.