One faction of the GOP that has remained particularly wary of Rand Paul’s Senate candidacy are neoconservatives who are still angry about his father Ron Paul’s criticism of Israel and his disdain for Bush-era military adventurism.
In the past, Rand has echoed his father’s views, opposing the Iraq War, and from the neocon point of view, the Paul family’s isolationism is as whacked out as anything hatched by the anti-war left.
Now, it turns out, Rand is looking to mend fences. He made a quiet pilgrimage and met privately with some of Washington’s most influential neocons, as well as the pro-Israel lobby, delivering them a not-too-subtle message: Never mind my father’s views, you guys can trust me now.
The episode is buried in Jason Zengerle’s big new profile of Rand in GQ Magazine:
At a private office in Dupont Circle, he talked foreign policy with Bill Kristol, Dan Senor, and Tom Donnelly, three prominent neocons who’d been part of an effort to defeat him during the primary. “He struck me as genuinely interested in trying to understand why people like us were so apoplectic,” Senor says of their two-hour encounter. “He wanted to get educated about our problem with him. He wasn’t confrontational, and he wasn’t disagreeable. He didn’t seem cemented in his views. He was really in absorption mode.”
The following month, he met with officials from the powerful lobbying group AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which has frequently clashed with Ron Paul over what the group views as his insufficient support of Israel. Paul, according to one person familiar with the AIPAC meeting, “told them what they wanted to hear: ‘I’m more reasonable than my father on the things you care about.’ He was very solicitous.”
But some neocons still remain highly wary of Rand. Michael Goldfarb, who still works closely with Kristol, tells me that Rand’s summit with the neocons has “dampened some of the concern” but that neocons remain split over whether Rand can be trusted.
“While there was once pretty much universal hostility to Paul among neoconservatives, there’s now a split, with some folks inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and others still convinced he’s his father’s son,” Goldfarb says. “Those folks aren’t likely to change their minds until he starts casting votes on national security and defense issues.”
It’s the latest chapter in Rand Paul’s extreme makeover: From neo-isolationist to neocon in 60 seconds!