Rand Paul Admits 'War' With GOP Establishment in NC Primary Race

Image: Rand Paul Admits 'War' With GOP Establishment in NC Primary Race

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 09:38 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul went on the attack in the "war" against the GOP establishment on Monday as he campaigned in North Carolina for tea party favorite Greg Brannon.

Speaking to a cheering crowd outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte on Monday, Paul compared moderate Republicans to a mythical sea monster while stating that Brannon is the "dragon slayer" who can strike a blow for conservatives, according to Politico.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

"The status quo has gotten too strong in Washington, D.C.," he said. "The Leviathan has gotten too large. As we stand here, the debt clock is spiraling out of control. Send us a champion. Send us a hero. Send us a dragon slayer."

According to the Charlotte Observer, Paul added, "What North Carolina needs is what America craves, not another rubber stamp, not another go-along-get-along politician, not another cog in the wheel. What America craves is a dragon-slayer. And that dragon-slayer is Dr. Greg Brannon."

Calling Brannon a champion of constitutional conservatives, the Kentucky senator said: "I'm here today because Greg Brannon is a believer, and we need true believers in Congress. We've got enough of Democrat-lite out there."

In an interview with RealClearPolitics, Paul said that the North Carolina primary could be seen as part of the internal strife between the GOP and the tea party on Capitol Hill.

"There's a little bit of a war going on," he said. "I don't know who wins in the end."

Paul, who is potential presidential contender in 2016, was hoping his speech on the eve of the GOP primary would fire up libertarians and tea party supporter to head to the polls.

"This is the first high-profile Senate primary pitting the tea party against the establishment," said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Cook Political Report, according to the Observer.

Brannon, an obstetrician, is facing a tough election fight with frontrunner Thom Tillis, the House Speaker in the state Legislature. A candidate must win 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election.

The pair face five other candidates, including the Rev. Mark Harris, an evangelical Baptist pastor who may split the vote, resulting in a Tillis-Brannon cash-draining runoff in July.

In a recent RealClearPolitics survey, Tillis stands at 39.5 percent of the vote with Brannon second at 24 percent and Harris third at 15 percent.

The winner will take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, who has been targeted by the GOP as highly vulnerable in the election due to her support of Obamacare.

Tillis has been endorsed by several GOP moderate conservatives, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, North Carolina Gov. Patrick McCrory, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and strategist Karl Rove, founder of American Crossroads PAC.

"This race is like that final putt that keeps moving slowly towards the hole," said Steven Law, the president of American Crossroads, which is also endorsing Tillis. "It's on the right path, but it's whether it actually falls in or not on Tuesday."

Law has said that his group supports the most conservative candidate who can win, according to The New American.

Harris has the support of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also campaigned in the state on Monday, and Robin Hayes, a former U.S. representative and former chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a tea party leader, has also endorsed Brannon, saying he's a "constitutional reformer."

Paul said that he scheduled his last-minute trip to tout Brannon "because we think Greg has a chance," while noting that the doctor could eventually win in a runoff.

The senator also rejected claims from GOP establishment that the first-time candidate would be more likely to lose in a general election to Hagan compared to Tillis.

"They said the same about me," Paul told RealClearPolitics. "People say that because it's a way to attack, but I think not being a career politician is a real asset. I think a lot of independent voters like the idea of someone not being a career politician. Frankly, physicians are more trustworthy than politicians."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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