Rand Paul has been the subject of a lot of discussion this election cycle. That discussion is likely to take on a new tone after his dominant performance on the main stage of the Fox Business News Debate. Once called the “Most Interesting Man In Politics” and leading in the polls, he suffered a rough summer after Donald Trump entered the race.
Some of the “Rand is faltering” dialogue was overblown. Dr. Paul has won every major straw poll so far (where actual voting occurs) and continued to rack up endorsements while the media was questioning whether he’d stay in the race. Some sources even considered him the winner of previous debates. Still, no one can deny that he had not achieved his once-expected front-runner status. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump were the consensus top performers in prior debates.
This time around, there’s unlikely to be any disagreement about who won.
Rand Paul started strong when asked about income inequality and whether it mattered (an issue Democrats have controlled thus far). “Absolutely,” Paul responded. “And I think that we ought to look where income inequality seems to be the worst. It seems to be worst in cities run by Democrats, governors of States run by Democrats and countries currently run by Democrats. So the thing is, let’s look for root causes.” All of Paul’s claims are true and this was one of the biggest applause moments of the night.
Paul went on to explain how Big Government, especially the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve, causes income inequality. He did it in a way that was both understandable and interesting for average voters, a hard feat to pull off. The most important point he made was that activist monetary policy (something almost all Democrats favor) hurts the poor more than any other group in our society.
Later, Paul provided strong answers on fiscal policy as well. Each candidate was asked about his or her tax plan and everyone put forth some good ideas, even Ben Carson (who has been light on detail in the past.) But when asked for details on how they would balance the Federal budget while implementing a massive tax cut, Rand Paul was the only one who even tried to offer a coherent answer:
Paul: My tax plan, however, is the only tax plan among any of the candidates on the stage that is part of a balanced budget plan. I put forward three plans that actually balance the budget over a five-year period.
Each of these plans have details on exactly where we would cut. The question came up earlier, where would you cut? Nobody likes to say where they would cut. I’ve put pencil to paper and done three budgets that actually balance.
I’m also in favor of a plan called the penny plan where we’d just cut 1 percent across the board and the budget actually balances in less than five years. So I think what is extraordinary about my tax plan is it is in the context of balancing the budget.
Again, Paul’s claims are true; he’s unique among the candidates in that he’s put forth a tax and budget plan which gives money back to the private sector and deals with the problems of deficits and debt.
Surprisingly, neither of those issues were his strongest moment of the night.
Donald Trump was asked about his opposition to the “Trans-Pacific-Partnership” and went on a long rant about how China is hurting the US economy through currency manipulation. Trump opposes the TPP because fighting currency manipulation wasn’t part of the deal. The only problem?
“Hey… you know, we might want to point out China is not part of this deal,” Rand Paul added once Trump had finished talking. This drew laughter and applause from the crowd as well as a strong response on Twitter. It was enough to almost make you feel bad for policy novice Donald Trump.
Senator Paul continued to dominate the discussion all the way to the close of the debate, slapping down Marco Rubio’s plan for a trillion dollars in new military spending without offsetting cuts as ‘not fiscally conservative’. Rand Paul has also previously proposed increases to the defense budget, but would pay for them with cuts in the domestic budget. He also pointed out how “naive” and “foolish” it was to suggest a no-fly zone over Syria, since it would likely mean shooting down Russian planes and a possible World War 3. Candidates including Carly Fiorina had previously suggested the idea.
All in all, he was the most realistic, sophisticated, and grown-up candidate on every issue from foreign policy to climate change and energy policy. In fact, he was the most presidential.
That’s not to say no one else had any good moments. Marco Rubio spoke eloquently about his overall policy vision for a dynamic and changing economy that would lead to a “new American Century”. Carly Fiorina laid out a compelling five-point plan for growing the economy. But no one really ever came close to touching Paul’s breakout performance.
The candidates who fared the worst were John Kasich and Jeb Bush. Kasich came across as petty and aggressive, frequently interrupting moderators and other candidates. Worse, when he did get a chance to speak, he spent his time criticizing conservative economics and defending the idea of bailing out big banks. Jeb Bush’s problem was…well does anyone even remember Jeb Bush at the debate?
Anyway, it’s quite likely that Rand’s strong performance will vault him back near the front of the pack. Frankly, any media source who declares anyone else to be the winner will be demonstrating as much bias as the CNBC moderators showed in the last debate.
Rand Paul is the SECOND Paul to win a debate last night (Ron Paul won the early debate)