As Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul ramps up his probable presidential campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, his dad's disillusioned supporters are drifting away from him in droves, according to Politico.
Although they had expected the GOP senator to follow in the footsteps of his libertarian father, Ron Paul, the grass-roots disciples have been turned off by the son's apparent move to mainstream politics.
The most prominent defector is Drew Ivers, chairman of Ron Paul's 2012 Iowa campaign, who distanced himself from Rand Paul by saying he will not endorse him in the 2016 campaign, though he is not intending to endorse anyone else either, Politico reported.
This week three members of Iowa's Ron Paul liberty movement — state Sen. Jason Shultz and former Iowa Republican Party central committee members Chad Steenhoek and Joel Kurtinitis — revealed that they will be backing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the first official candidate in the White House race.
Ivers, who had a dinner meeting with Rand Paul in August, believes that the Kentucky senator, purely for presidential political purposes, has shunned some of the important positions that drew him to his dad.
"He's moderating on most of them, not taking a real clear stance on a number of them," said Ivers. "The strategy of sending a blended message is one that has risk."
Shultz had endorsed Ron Paul in 2012 and Kurtinitis served as his Iowa regional director, according to the political news website.
Kurtinitis told Politico that he originally planned to support Rand Paul, but had a change of heart during Cruz's battle in Congress to shut down the government in 2013 to prevent funding for Obamacare.
"When Rand was filibustering, we saw Mike Lee and Ted Cruz standing there," Kurtinitis said. "When the shoe was on the other foot and Cruz was the one giving the filibuster, I and others in the liberty movement looked around and asked, 'Where's Rand?' It kind of added insult to injury to learn that he planned to be at a fundraiser for [Iowa Gov.] Terry Branstad that day."
Aaron Day, a leader of the Free State movement in New Hampshire, says members of the libertarian group are not supportive of Rand Paul in the same way they were for his dad, says Politico.
"One of the big concerns is whether or not he's left his liberty base and is he moving towards the center in reality or just for the purpose of optics," Day told Politico.
But there are many other supporters of Ron Paul standing by the son, who is expected to formally announce next week that he will enter the run for the Oval Office.
"I'm excited about the prospect of Senator Paul running for president and look forward to his visit to Iowa on April 10," said David Fischer, a former Iowa GOP co-chairman who served as Iowa co-chairman of Ron Paul's 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
"If, as expected, he launches his presidential campaign I will be proud to stand with Rand, who I believe stands head and shoulders above the other prospects in terms of electability and commitment to our cherished principles of freedom and prosperity.
"I've talked to hundreds of people who supported Ron Paul and the vast majority of them are ready to stand with Rand."
And Sergio Gor, the communications director for the Paul campaign, told Politico,
"Sen. Rand Paul continues to have tremendous support from the vast majority of the liberty movement."
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