By JH staff, Special for USDR
Rand Paul has been seeking support for a possible 2016 White House run in a rather unlikely place. The Kentucky senator and likely GOP presidential candidate has been meeting with individuals and groups in the Democratic stronghold of Northern California’s technology community.
Trey Grayson, Sen. Paul’s establishment-backed opponent in Kentucky’s 2010 senatorial primary election, told the cohosts of the “Capital Games” podcast that he views Paul as a potential frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race.
“He’s obviously extraordinarily talented with politics. He’s I think got a good sense of timing. He’s got a message that is resonating with Republican Party voters right now, and he’s a serious candidate,” Grayson said to cohosts ABC News’s Rick Klein and ESPN’s Andy Katz.
“I think he’s got a real shot at being the nominee. It’s too early to say whether he’s the favorite or not, but he’s certainly someone to be reckoned with. Some of the things that I saw that he did quite well in running against me, he’s continuing to do that,” Grayson said. “For the Republican Party to win more elections, we’ve got to do a better job of bringing younger voters into the fold, and Sen. Paul certainly does that.”
Many Republicans consider Northern California’s Silicon Valley to be hostile territory, but Sen. Paul seems to have a very different take. In fact, he has made two trips to the area in the last two years.
In a recent interview with Fortune magazine, Sen. Paul expressed an optimistic view about his prospects with the California tech enclave.
“I see almost unlimited potential for us in Silicon Valley,” he said. “Many more of them are libertarian-leaning Republicans than they are Democrats, and they may not know it yet.”
Convincing the technology community to back a candidate who is associated with the GOP brand is a formidable task. The San Francisco region voted for President Obama’s reelection in extraordinarily high numbers, approximately 84%. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has been successfully depicted by political adversaries as anti-science Luddites that pander to the creationist base of their party. This image has been ingrained into the prevailing mindset of the Silicon Valley subculture.
The timing may now be right, however, for a Republican presidential candidate to tap into the tech community’s disenchantment with the Obama administration’s policies, and Sen. Paul is the most prominent well-positioned politician to take up the task of piercing the Silicon Valley veil.
The Paul family has already established a solid connection with the technology industry, the senator’s father, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, having attained a high degree of Internet fame. The libertarian politics of both father and son have continuously attracted numerous adherents in the Silicon Valley, and both Pauls have endorsed a libertarian slate that supports Internet freedom.
When it comes to two issues that resonate within the tech community, the senator has shown himself to be very much in sync with Silicon Valley’s views. He made national headlines with his 13-hour filibuster against the Obama administration drone program, filed his own lawsuit over the NSA surveillance program, and appears to be on the side of the tech executives when it comes to the draconian intellectual property policies that are being pushed by Hollywood lobbyists.
Sen. Paul has made it clear that he is a different kind of Republican who agrees with the non-interventionist foreign policy views that are held by many of Northern California’s elite.
Silicon Valley is generally open to discussions involving overly large government. Tech executives took note when Sen. Paul recently slammed the Senate investigations in which Apple executives were interrogated ostensibly over the company’s taxes.
“I’m offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America’s greatest success stories,” Sen. Paul said.
He and his political backers know that unlocking the technology community could potentially bring in significant campaign donations. In fact, the senator has some donor connections already in place. PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel gave a financial boost to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign with a $2.6 million contribution to the pro-Paul super PAC, Endorse Liberty. And during the Republican National Convention in 2012, Thiel made it a point to meet privately with Sen. Paul.
If Sen. Paul formally runs, and it looks as if he is likely to do so, his campaign will no doubt be hoping that Silicon Valley executives have a greater aversion to surveillance, drones, regulations, taxes, and the war on drugs than they do against the Republican brand.