Rand Paul seems to stray from Libertarian roots as he courts GOP base

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from The Washington Post,

Rand Paul seems to stray from libertarian roots as he courts GOP base.

When the presidential buzz began building around Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) a couple of years ago, the expectation was that his libertarian ideas could make him the most unusual and intriguing voice among the major contenders in the 2016 field.

But now, as he prepares to make his formal announcement Tuesday, Paul is a candidate who has turned fuzzy, having trimmed his positions and rhetoric so much that it’s unclear what kind of Republican he will present himself as when he takes the stage.

“He’s going to get his moment in the sun,” said David Adams, who served as campaign chairman for Paul’s insurgent 2010 Senate campaign. “What he does with it from there will have bearing on the Republican Party.”

There are at least two areas where Paul has moved more in line with the conservative Republican base, somewhat to the consternation of the purists in the libertarian movement: adopting a more muscular posture on defense and foreign policy, and courting the religious right.

Where he once pledged to sharply cut the Pentagon’s budget, for instance, Paul late last month proposed a $190 billion increase over the next two years — albeit one that would be paid for by cutting foreign aid and other government programs. His tour following the announcement of his candidacy will include an event at Patriots Point in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor, with the World War II-era aircraft carrier USS Yorktown as a backdrop.

The haziness over Paul’s positions increased last week with his conspicuous silence on controversies in the realms of both national security and the cultural fronts.

Nearly all of his potential rivals for the 2016 GOP nomination have been vocal in their support for Indiana’s new religious liberties law, which critics say would allow discrimination against gays. And the Republican response to President Obama’s nuclear negotiations with Iran has been widespread skepticism.

In both instances, Paul’s office said he was vacationing with his family and would not comment.

What Paul says Tuesday and in several stops in the following days will be closely watched

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