While Ron Paul's early support came almost entirely from outside of the Republican Party machinery, Rand Paul already enjoys institutional GOP support in Washington and -- perhaps more valuably -- within the ranks of the Iowa GOP.
Not coy about his presidential ambitions, the first-term lawmaker will aim to build on his recent momentum when he delivers the headlining speech at the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln Dinner in May.
It won't be Paul's first trip to the nation's first voting state, which appears fated to become his home away from home over the next several years. Before the 2012 GOP caucuses, he campaigned there alongside his father and returned to the state in May to deliver a keynote speech at an event hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, an influential socially conservative group.
Paul, of course, is not the only potential White House hopeful eager to test the waters in the Hawkeye State. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio waited less than two weeks after Election Day before traveling to Altoona for a "wink-wink" celebration of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's birthday. And Rick Santorum, who is beginning to gear up a possible second presidential run of his own, is slated to return next month to the state that rewarded him with a surprise come-from-behind victory in the 2012 caucuses.
But Paul's ability to snag the Iowa GOP's marquee invitation indicates the leg up he enjoys over prospective opponents. The recently re-elected chairman of the state party, A.J. Spiker, and co-chairman David Fischer were key figures in Ron Paul's 2012 Iowa campaign and are ideologically aligned with his libertarian-leaning son.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King -- a likely Republican front-runner to replace the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin -- will round out the undercard for May's Lincoln Dinner, heightening the visibility of Paul's appearance.
Shane Vander Hart, editor-in-chief and founder of the Iowa-based Christian conservative news and commentary site Caffeinated Thoughts, noted that Paul's support among Republicans in the state already extended beyond the network that his father had constructed.
"He has a great base of grassroots activists to build on, so I believe he will have an advantage coming into Iowa," Vander Hart said. "I believe he has the ability to build a bridge with social conservatives that his dad could not quite accomplish in 2008 or 2012."
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Rand Paul's Iowa Advantage
The Chair and Co-Chair of the Iowa GOP were both involved with Ron Paul's campaigns: