Senator Rand Paul has had an interesting relationship with President Donald Trump, dating back to the days of being a longshot candidate to now. When both men were both candidates vying for the Republican nomination, Senator Paul was a vocal critic of a man viewed by many others to be an inconsistent conservative with dangerous potential.
When the longshot candidate became the party nominee, Senator Paul softened his tone and walked carefully. While President Trump had secured the party nomination, he was still quite the controversial topic in the party. As a result, taking a position on the candidate was complicated and risky even within the Republican Party.
Now that President Trump resides in the White House and is the chief executive of the free world, he’s become a controversial figure in Republican politics all over again. This time the controversy is due to his ambitious support of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s healthcare proposal, dubbed by many conservative and libertarian opponents as “Obamacare Lite.”
Supporting President Trump could be considered a toxic political move in certain circles before, but now it’s proving to be an issue for conservatives and libertarians. But that’s not bothering Senator Rand Paul.
Since the beginning of the Republican healthcare proposal controversy, Senator Paul has sought to distance himself from the lower chamber while standing by the President’s side, despite both House leadership and President Trump being on the same side. The picture Senator Paul painted was one of an honest President wanting to truly repeal Obamacare while Speaker Ryan simply wants to do something underwhelming.
What does Senator Paul have to gain here?
Since his first term in the United States Senate, the Kentucky Senator has proven to be a negotiator and deal maker. Whereas his father, former Congressman Ron Paul, was known for sticking to his guns and not stepping down, Senator Paul has been willing to give a little to get a little. Prominent examples include endorsing former Governor Mitt Romney in 2012 and supporting Mitch McConnell for Senate Majority Leader.
The idea here is that gaining favor with the President could result in being able to sway him.
Is this a safe gamble?
Although poll numbers suggest the President is losing favor, he still holds significant weight with conservative voters and any gain with them would benefit Senator Paul. Furthermore, a successful repeal of Obamacare that goes as far as Senator Paul would prefer could position his proposals to be put to the test.
Senator Paul also could lose from this gamble. If getting closer to President Trump on the healthcare issue fails to sway him away from Speaker Ryan, Senator Paul could be seen as an ally of the moderate Republican offensive pushing Obamacare Lite.
Will Senator Paul be able to swing President Trump’s support in the right direction after the mistake of backing Speaker Ryan’s Obamacare Lite legislation?
This much is clear, however: Republican leadership has failed America by failing to follow through on their most ambitious promise. The repeal of Obamacare fell short with the failure of Obamacare Lite. Can Senator Rand Paul and other conservative members of Congress save the Republican Party from itself?