Tags: Rand Paul | Detroit | Kemp | zone

Rand Paul Comes Out as the New Jack Kemp

By    |   Monday, 09 Dec 2013 12:57 PM

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., gave a keynote speech before the prestigious Detroit Economic Club on Dec. 6. This is an inherently significant event, because it demonstrates that Paul is moving early to claim a place in the field that is taking shape to offer alternatives to former Florida governor Jeb Bush from the right in the 2016 presidential race, much as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is drawing speculation that she may offer an alternative to Hillary Clinton from the left.

This article will outline the major points of the speech and then offer some observations as to ways Paul might be challenged to improve his presentation if he decides to run for president.

Since I was part of the outer circle of the Jack Kemp brain trust, Paul's program was instantly recognizable as a rehash of Kemp's "enterprise zone" program, which provided tax and regulatory incentives for businesses to locate in areas such as Detroit that are demonstrably behind in their economic performance.

Paul proved he has not lost touch with his constituents when he hastened to note that there are 20 counties in eastern Kentucky that would also qualify. Paul acknowledged his debt to Kemp and then proclaimed that his "economic freedom zones" are even more generous than Kemp's were; in effect, "enterprise zones on steroids."

He also scored with the audience by attaching the term "civil rights" to his proposals for taking power away from federal bureaucrats in the fields of education and prison reform, so that students would be given money and freedom to choose from among local schools, and felons convicted of such non-violent crimes as drug possession would not be subject to lengthy mandatory sentences and upon release would be able to get jobs and regain their right to vote.

Paul's speech was definitely a success, and he received a standing ovation. One might even call it a triumph. Yet there were points in the speech where a viewer could spot missed opportunities and even a faux pas that can be corrected as Paul hones his presentation, proving and deciding whether he is ready for the big stage.

First, for a major speech before such a prominent group, the speaker should open with a first-rate, original joke. Paul got away with this one, and the audience laughed, but he needs to do better. This may entail measures like: a) being more observant and collecting original material; b) if the speaker is going to steal jokes, steal better ones; c) hire funnier staff people who can write or steal better material; and d) since Paul is reaching out to Democrats like President Obama, with whom he flew on Air Force One and discussed infrastructure, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to discuss sentencing reform and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to discuss his economic program, he could presumably meet with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to get some pointers about how to get better comedy material for the many speeches he will be giving if he makes this race.

Second, when the moderator read a question from an black student that included a request to sign a pocket copy of the Constitution, Paul fumbled the chance for a great photo-op. Finally, to say that whether he will run depends on his wife will not suffice in the long run.

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Robert-Feinberg
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., gave a keynote speech before the prestigious Detroit Economic Club on Dec. 6. This is an inherently significant event, because it demonstrates that Paul is moving early to claim a place in the field in the 2016 presidential race.
Rand Paul,Detroit,Kemp,zone
549
2013-57-09
Monday, 09 Dec 2013 12:57 PM
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