Rand Paul highlighted his differences during the second Republican debate, but it might explain his weak showing in polls.
Throughout the debate, Paul highlighted his unpopular opinions among other candidates, as The Nation noted.
On foreign policy, the war on drugs, and criminal-justice reform, Paul stood alone.
“I’ve made my career as an opponent of the Iraq War,” he said. “The Iraq War backfired and did not help us.”
Paul saw himself as the only anti-war candidate on the stage: “If you want boots on the ground, and you want them to be our sons and daughters, you’ve got 14 other choices. There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you if you want to go back to war in Iraq.”
The difficulty for Paul will be to persuade more voters to oppose more intervention.
Paul has been sliding in the polls since May, and Real Clear Politics gives him an average of 3.3 percent support.
The libertarian-inclined wing of the Republican Party hasn’t been vibrant enough to pull Paul back to the 10 percent support he had previously received.
Paul stood out when talking about criminal-justice reform and the war on drugs. While Paul focused on legalization and shifting from prisons to medical treatment for addicts, everyone else on the stage refuted him. Chris Christie warned about the dangers of marijuana as a “gateway drug.”
When Jeb Bush admitted to smoking marijuana in his youth, yet wanted it to remain illegal, Paul criticized him for his hypocrisy:
“Kids who have privilege like you do don’t go to jail. But the poor kids in the inner city still go to jail.”
If Paul continues to struggle and can’t build momentum, his chances at the nomination will continue to deteriorate. If he bows out, the diversity of voices in the Republican field will narrow. So far, the other candidates have not seen much in Paul’s platform worthy to co-opt.