I suspect a lot of people would say Senator Cruz, and I’d be inclined to agree, but Politico has an intriguing article on Senator Paul that details his role as sort of the “peacemaker” of the shutdown talks that got me thinking of Paul’s role in the midst of all the fighting over government funding:
In the raging government shutdown fight, the Kentucky tea party favorite is quietly carving out a role as a bridge builder between the warring hard-line conservative faction and establishment wings of his party. And he’s also tossing out ideas aimed at bringing Democrats along in the process.
Paul pitched a “clean” one-to-two week stop-gap measure to give the parties time to iron out their differences while keeping the government afloat. He has suggested bicameral negotiations to find a middle-ground between the demands of conservatives to defund Obamacare and Democratic insistence that they wouldn’t touch the law. And he’s now making a new pitch: Coffee.
In a letter to all senators sent Wednesday afternoon, Paul called for a bipartisan coffee meeting on the Capitol steps Thursday morning to “alleviate this tension and partisanship.”
“Tension is at an all-time high here at the Capitol,” Paul said in the letter, which was provided to POLITICO. “We are all anxious about the shutdown and had to send the bulk of our staff home — worried about their future. … Maybe by chatting over coffee together, we can just talk and see if we can get along.”
Paul’s coffee announcement may amount to little more than optics in what has become an extended round of theatrics on Capitol Hill, with no resolution to the government shutdown in sight. But it’s the latest example of how the potential 2016 presidential hopeful is methodically seeking to broaden his appeal from 2010, when he ran for the Senate on a hard-right tea party platform with a devoted libertarian following.
Now, he’s building close ties to party leaders like Mitch McConnell — viewed skeptically by some conservative activists — while trying to keep up his appeal among the tea party right.
Some conservatives might view this as “RINO-ish” but I’m not inclined to agree. I think Senator Paul has more than demonstrated his small government bonafides (his epic 13 hour filibuster on drone attacks from earlier this year comes to mind) and it’s good to see him steadily build leadership skills his first year in the Senate. In fact, I was just talking with some conservatives the other day telling them that I feel pretty good about the “young blood” rising stars in the GOP like Paul, Cruz, Rubio, Paul Ryan and others – some of who, like Cruz – are not afraid to be at odds with the “old guard” GOP leaders like Boehner and others.
And speaking of, I know a lot of my readers are constantly at odds with Boehner because they don’t see him as being conservative enough, but I have to give him credit this week on how he and his team have handled the shutdown. Basically what they’re showing to the American people is how it is Democrats causing the shutdown over their refusal to negotiate at all. Each day, House leadership has attempted funding bills for important services like the VA, and tonight the NIH, and Reid and the President have flatly said they won’t consider anything but a “clean” Continuing Resolution. The House GOP has said they will submit more compromise funding bills tomorrow, which Harry Reid has already declared DOA. Boehner’s strategy here is to, bit by bit, destroy the phony media narrative that it’s the GOP who doesn’t care about sick kids, veterans, and others directly impacted by the shutdown – which is the tactic Reid and the other Usual Suspects on the Hill typically employee in order to try and soften up/embarrass the opposition. BoehnerCo are showing the American people that Republicans are willing to go to the table with the Senate, willing to fund some of the more “essential” programs that need it, but that the Senate has to be open to talks on how to get the government fully back up and running first.
Will it work? We shall see. The Senate has already adjourned for the night. Tomorrow, as they say, is a new day. Stay tuned ….