Thursday, February 26, 2015

How Much Will Israel/Adelson Spend To Kill Rand Paul's Presidential Run?


Sheldon Adelson says he won't pick the GOP presidential nominee until next year. But that doesn't mean he and Miriam are sitting around clipping coupons now. As Israel's top political enforcer for the American Republican Party, Adelson's work is never done. Even if they haven't decided who to get behind for the presidency yet, they know one Republican Israel hates even more than Obama: Rand Paul. And Adelson isn't having any of it. Note: Paul would, in all likelihood, make an abysmal president, one of the worst imaginable. But that doesn't mean he's wrong about everything. In fact, many of the things Adelson and Israel fear the most from the Kentucky Republican are among the more alluring prospects around his campaign.

He doesn't buy into the rote right-wing tyranny and suppression of civil liberties that has become part and parcel of the dominant Adelson wing of the GOP. And, whatever else you can say about Paul, his primary loyalty is to the United States and the American people, not to Israel. Adelson is determined to nip this one in the bud-- and he has the money to do it-- and growing backing for an aggressive foreign policy from the Republican base  pushed, as usual, by our corporate yellow journalists.
Nearly three-quarters of Republicans now favor sending ground troops into combat against the Islamic State, according to a CBS News poll last week. And in Iowa and South Carolina, two early nominating states, Republicans said military action against the group was, alongside economic matters, the most important issue in the 2016 election, according to an NBC survey released last week.

...[T]he hawkishness now defining the early campaign could imperil the presidential hopes of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, the libertarian-leaning Republican who embraces a more restrained approach to American engagement with the world.

“The guy who’s now got the biggest challenge because of this is Rand Paul,” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker. “The Rand Paul worldview, which I suspect will change, is just incompatible with reality.”

Though Mr. Paul will not formally announce his campaign until April, prominent Republican officials and groups are already organizing to undercut his approach. One of the party’s biggest donors, the Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has told associates that he is open to underwriting an effort to stopping Mr. Paul, should he gain traction in the primaries.

At least two Republicans, John R. Bolton, the former United Nations ambassador, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are considering their own White House bids largely to draw attention to what they see as the need for a more muscular foreign policy.

One international affairs expert who has advised Mr. Paul and hails from a similar, more restrained school of foreign policy said the revival of terrorism as an issue would force the senator to explain his views more thoroughly.

“He’s got, to some extent, to be an educator in this process,” said the expert, Richard R. Burt, a former ambassador and State Department official under President Ronald Reagan. “He needs to talk through with primary voters the kinds of questions that need to be asked before we commit U.S. forces abroad: How we can’t just have a visceral reaction. How does this impact American interests and security?”

But Mr. Paul’s detractors are not going to make that easy.

“I think most of the Republican candidates or prospective candidates are headed in the right direction; there’s one who’s headed in the wrong direction,” said Mr. Bolton, suggesting that most Republicans would be “horrified” by Mr. Paul’s views on international affairs.

Mr. Bolton has formed three separate political groups to promote pro-interventionist Republican candidates. His newest effort, called the Foundation for American Security and Freedom, will be a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt group, meaning that it can accept donations from contributors who wish to remain anonymous.

Mr. Graham has formed a similar group, Security Through Strength, and has begun traveling to early nominating states to discuss what he calls “the threat of radical Islam” as he ponders a presidential run.

Mike Rogers, the former Michigan representative and the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is not considering a presidential bid, but he is trying to influence the 2016 race by creating an organization called Americans for Peace Prosperity and Security, which he said would support candidates “who understand the importance of American engagement.” His group is scheduled to host its first forum in Iowa in May and is considering holding a large candidates’ forum in the fall.

The combined efforts of these groups, along with the shift of rank-and-file Republicans toward hawkishness, could isolate Mr. Paul. This will be most vividly apparent once debates begin this year. With Republican candidates increasingly attacking Mr. Obama for what they see as his unwillingness to project American strength, Mr. Paul’s support for the administration’s policies on such issues as negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program will stand out-- and force him into some awkward situations.

...Mr. Paul and his backers have been conflicted about how to respond to the shift, and to the senator’s hawkish critics. They have courted them at times; Mr. Paul has aggressively sought out Republican Jewish Coalition donors and dropped by one of their events at a Washington steakhouse this year that Mr. Adelson attended. His team has even sought to flatter the neoconservative Washington Free Beacon, offering the site exclusives about Mr. Paul’s bill to eliminate American aid to the Palestinians (which the Free Beacon noted promptly came hours before he was to meet with Jewish donors).

But when challenged, Mr. Paul can also strike a pugilistic note. Referring to Mr. Bolton and other critics, Doug Stafford, Mr. Paul’s top political adviser, accused them of trying to promote their own political brand at Mr. Paul’s expense.

“Can you run for secretary of state?” Mr. Stafford asked. “They are going to lie about who Rand is and what he stands for. That’s what they do. We will be ready for them.”

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