WASHINGTON, February 12, 2013 — Move over Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), your big moment in the sun is about to be eclipsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stepping in front of the cameras to deliver the Tea Party’s rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
This was supposed to be Sen. Rubio’s chance to shine, giving the official Republican response to the State of the Union speech. It was supposed to be the Republican Party’s chance to rebrand itself as the responsible party, simpatico to the needs of the country.
Instead, here comes the party crasher, Rand Paul.
The Tea Party plans to hustle its brand of government via Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, son of failed GOP presidential nominee Ron Paul. No matter that the GOP is appalled. No matter that the Tea Party is the reason Rubio got to the Senate in the first place.
This is the third time the Tea Party has offered up its own take on the President’s State of the Union speech. The first was given by Congresswoman Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) in 2011 and former GOP presidential nominee Herman Cain in 2012.
Those two alone speak volumes about the Tea Party. Makes you wonder why Rand Paul would want to give the rebuttal for them…except that he wants to run for president in 2016 and he sees this as a way of getting some national attention. And it is working and he hasn’t even delivered his rebuttal.
Paul will deliver his response at the National Press Club and it will be broadcast live on the Tea Party Expresses website. So don’t go looking for it on any major stations, but then again, who knows, maybe one of the cable news shows like Fox News might pick it up.
Of course the Republican leaders would rather the Paul speech not be shown anywhere. While not publicly saying it, this is not the man they want as the face of the Republican Party, even if he does want to run in 2016. As the GOP tries to shed its 2012 skin, the Republican establishment sees someone like Paul as the poster boy for all that is perceived wrong with the Republican Party.
However, Sen. Paul is having none of it and defends his speech: “To me I see it as an extra response. I don’t see it as necessarily divisive. I won’t say anything on there that necessarily is like, ‘Oh, Marco Rubio is wrong.’
Isn’t that big of Rand Paul?
“He and I don’t always agree,” he continued. “But this isn’t about he and I [sic]. This is about the Tea Party, which is a grassroots movement, a real movement with millions of Americans who are still concerned about some of the deal making that goes on in Washington. They’re still concerned about the fact that we’re borrowing $50,000 a second.
“None of the things I ran on as part of the Tea Party have been fixed. We’re still going down a hole as far as the debt crisis looming and so we really have to talk about spending and we want to make sure there’s a voice for that.”
So if Rand Paul has no plans to steal Rubio’s thunder or disagree with the Republican Party, they why did he think there was a need for him to speak, agreeing to be the voice of the Tea Party?
“There’s a lot of energy that still comes from the Tea Party, and while they consider themselves mostly to be Republican, they occasionally will chastise even the Republican establishment. So they want an independent voice,” Paul told CNN.
The chairwoman of the Tea Party, Amy Kremer, was more blunt: “Americans are fed up with Washington politics that fail to address America’s fiscal woes.”
And you thought the 2016 campaign hadn’t begun yet.
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