Alexander's attempt to exploit Paul backfires

Alexander's attempt to exploit Paul backfires

July 18th, 2013 in Opinion Free Press

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks at the New Hampshire Republican State Committee Liberty Dinner in Concord, N.H., in this file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

"Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander." At least that's what Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., claims in Alexander's latest campaign ad. But the ad, like Alexander, isn't quite what it seems.

In the television ad, Alexander, a self-proclaimed conservative whose voting record is more in line with big-government liberals, plays a dubious trick on voters. It turns out that the clip of Paul seemingly praising Alexander featured in the ad is taken out of context in an attempt to appeal to the fiscal conservatives and tea party supporters who view Paul as a hero.

Alexander's dodgy decision backfired badly.

Sen. Paul's full comments, which are available on YouTube, are, "He goes around, he talks to everyone and nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander." Rather than the resounding endorsement the ad makes Paul's statement appear, the comment seems to imply that Alexander is known in the Senate for glad-handing.

A spokesman for Sen. Paul told the Times Free Press that despite what the ad attempted to imply, Paul had not endorsed Alexander. "The footage that Sen. Alexander's campaign is using is from a public press conference in regards to a bill they both cosponsored," said Sergio Gor, an aide to Sen. Paul. "At this time, Senator Paul has not made an endorsement in this race."

In fact, given Paul's principled stances aimed at limiting the size and scope of government, it seems that Paul would be more likely to endorse one of Alexander's opponents in next summer's GOP Primary than to endorse "Liberal Lamar."

Sens. Paul and Alexander have been at odds on a number of important votes during Paul's brief tenure in the U.S. Senate.

Alexander was a lead co-sponsor of a bill that empowered the federal government to assist states in collecting sales taxes on Internet purchases. Paul wrote a scathing commentary in the Washington Times calling the online sales tax mandate "nothing more than a huge tax increase on the American people backed by lobbyists and some state governments." He added that he was disappointed that some Republicans, such as Alexander, were "backing this ill-advised bill."

Paul and Alexander also butted heads on the Senate's recent comprehensive immigration overhaul legislation. The Kentucky lawmaker called the proposal, which Alexander strongly supported, "a crummy bill." Alexander also voted in favor of a fiscally irresponsible "fiscal cliff" measure that was highly unpopular among many tea party activists. Paul was seen as the guiding force in opposition to the scheme.

Whereas Sen. Paul is consistently viewed as one of the members of Congress most committed to the principles of fiscally responsibility and limited government, Alexander is often ranked among the least-conservative Republicans.

The National Journal and the Club for Growth graded every senator based on his or her conservative and limited-government votes. Both organizations ranked Alexander as the 39th most conservative GOP senator out of 45 Republicans.

So why would Sen. Alexander's new campaign ad feature eight words, taken out of context, spoken by a member of the U.S. Senate with whom he often disagrees?

Because unlike Alexander, Paul has credibility among conservative voters. One of Alexander's own campaign staffers said as much, telling The Hill newspaper that, "Paul's inclusion in the video is designed to boost Alexander's credibility among the grassroots tea party activists."

As a result of his fiscally irresponsible, big government voting record Alexander is viewed, rightfully, as untrustworthy among fiscal conservatives and tea party-minded voters in the Volunteer State. Clumsily exploiting a tea party darling, however, will do little to improve Alexander's conservative credentials -- or his prospects of re-election.

After Paul was elected to the U.S. Senate, Alexander offered him some advice on CBS' "Face the Nation." Rand Paul, according to Alexander, should "stick to jobs, debt and terror, and providing a check-and-balance on a runaway government in Washington."

If only the hypocritical Alexander would follow his own advice.

His ad may claim that "Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander." The reality is, however, that more and more Tennessee voters can't wait to say "yes" to someone else.