Intractable, incorrigible and insurgent the hard liners in the TEA party have expressed unyielding repudiation of any candidate or official that dared suggest compromise or retreat from a TEA party approved position. Today it is being widely reported that Rand Paul is about to test their resolve.
POLITICO is calling Rand Paul's recently announced position on "illegals" to be a "remarkable reversal". When speaking to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Rand told the audience "“If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you”. But as POLITICO noted, that could be interpreted as a big change.
[I]n his first month in the Senate proposed a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship. While running against an establishment pick in Kentucky’s GOP primary in 2010, he proposed building an underground electric fence along the length of the entire border.
Rand's TEA party supporters have taken a pretty hard line on illegals over time supporting deportation and strict enforcement of immigration laws. And of course they are proud of their inflexibility on most issues, choosing in fact to abandon any party or candidate who does not toe the line of their ideology without waiver.
Once again Rand Paul, having accumulated a little political capital at the CPAC convention last week, has set about to spend it quickly and in the process may be trying to soften the hard liners who helped propel him to the Senate in 2010 on an issue which seems to have a better chance of broadening a base of voters for a possible presidential run than endearing him to his TEA party support system.
This one issue could become more of a defining moment than people realize. If Rand is able to hold the hard liners close as he softens his approach, he may demonstrate real power through unquestionable loyalty of an energized base. But if the TEA party hard liners stiffen he might find himself looking for love in new places.
Odds are Rand Paul's sense of timing and populism have convinced him that a more compassionate approach will sell, or, that he is such a good salesman that anything he says will sell. And that is why this moment is pretty highly charged for him.