Rand Paul heads to Maine
April 26th, 2014
09:00 AM ET
9 years ago

Rand Paul heads to Maine

(CNN) - When Sen. Rand Paul visits Maine Saturday, he'll be venturing into friendly territory.

His father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, amassed strong support in the state and took a close second behind Mitt Romney in the 2012 GOP presidential caucuses, 38%-36%.

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Rand Paul will speak at Maine's GOP convention on Saturday, after headlining a lunch for the state party with fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

The pairing of the two senators is an interesting matchup, given Collins' reputation for being a moderate and Paul's libertarian leanings. But it could be a mutually beneficial appearance.

Paul is actively trying to broaden his appeal in the GOP by courting mainstream Republicans without losing his libertarian-leaning base.

If Paul runs for president, he'll want the same robust support his father got from Republicans in Maine, and by appearing with Collins, he'll show voters nationwide he can play nice with establishment Republicans and those willing to work with the other side.

For her part, an event with Paul could help boost her credentials among her more conservative base and curb speculation that she's not a firmly rooted Republican.

"It's kind of neat to have two people that represent part of the breath of the Republican Party … together in one room," Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett said.

Bennett is hoping the joint appearance will help represent a theme of unity at the convention, a theme he says needs to permeate after the state's 2010 and 2012 conventions that saw strong division among tea party activists, libertarians and moderate Republicans.

"Our party is a very open and big tent kind of party in Maine," said Bennett, who became chairman last year. "What we hope to do with this convention is show that this diversity of viewpoints is a good thing for our party. It's a strength. There's a lot more that unites us than divides us."

The 2012 takeover

Maine's Republican delegation had a turbulent ride at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Florida. Ron Paul supporters had taken over the state's entire delegation at Maine's own convention earlier that year, obtaining all 21 delegates for Paul.

In Florida, they were vocal and aggressive in working to make sure Paul was fairly represented. Paul's delegates negotiated with Romney's campaign ahead of the event to hold debate on key policy issues for the Republican Party platform.

But during the convention, tensions resurfaced. A large number of his supporters stormed off the convention floor in protest of the RNC's decision to not seat 10 delegates from Maine as a punishment for the takeover.

When the tallies of Paul's delegates in each state were announced during the roll call, Paul's supporters delivered loud cheers. But convention organizers ultimately made a decision to stop calling out the Paul delegates. That decision was met with furious cries from Paul's supporters, who said their voices weren't being heard at the Republican Party's official gathering.

Maine's nontraditional track

The support for Ron Paul in Maine wasn't too big of a surprise. Although Paul was running as a Republican, the state had the nation's highest turnout for independent presidential candidate Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. It has elected an independent governor three times since 1974 and came close to doing the same in 2010. Its other U.S. senator, Angus King, is one of two independent senators. He caucuses with the Democrats.

The state hasn't voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988 or sent a Republican to the U.S. House since 1994, but at the same time, it hasn't sent a reliably blue Democrat to the Senate since 1988.

While Ron Paul had strong support in Maine-including an endorsement from Linda Bean, heiress to the famed outfitter L.L. Bean–it will be interesting to see how his son is received in the state, as not all Ron Paul supporters are fans of the Kentucky senator.

But with Maine's blended electoral history–Republicans took the state legislature in 2010; Democrats took it back in 2012–a politician like Paul, who's trying to buck many traditional views of the ideal Republican candidate, could make inroads in a state known for taking a nontraditional path.

Democrats, however, are already trying to stir up some drama ahead of Paul's trip. The Democratic National Committee released a new web video Friday, tying Paul with the outspoken and sometimes controversial governor of Maine, Paul LePage. The incumbent governor is also set to speak at the convention Saturday.

Bennett expects Paul's visit to go fairly well. "As I talk with people active in the party in Maine, he's one of the first names that people mention," he said, referring to potential candidates for the 2016 presidential race. "But it's a little early."

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Maine • Rand Paul
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    --none, I mean "NONE" of these current Republicans are worth your dime, one qualified to be cooks in WH. USA can not afford to this chance. Period. Now, Economy is improving–yes, it is.

    April 26, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. don in albuquerque

    Might as well head to Saturn, Randy. The closest your going to get too the Oval Office is going to be the mens room down the hall.

    April 26, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  3. Gary

    I wonder if Rant's hero, Clive, will be a keynote speaker.

    April 26, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. Thomas

    Rand Paul / Scott Brown 2016

    It's like an Irish Spring deodorant soap commercial !

    April 26, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. don in albuquerque


    And the rest of Bundy's Militia can serve as a background choir.

    April 26, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |

    They MIGHT hang BLAND from a LAMP POST, better go back to your HICK state!!!!!!

    April 26, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |

    When's the GOP going to WAKE UP and do what the MAJORITY of the voters WANT, OR LOSE YOUR SEATS, gun control, minimum wage imagration reform with 70-80% vote approval!!!!!

    April 26, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Kata Strophic

    Rand Paul's basic message is we ain't a country. Like the only non-frivolous word in "United States of America" is "State." I don't know what's in the water in Maine, but if they want someone with no social conscience (who despises women–but that's just gravy), who actually thinks unfettered corporate control equals some sort of "freedom," and who sports the economic sensibilities of a first grader, they might want to just look into making him honorary Queen for a Day instead of voting for him for an actual government office.

    April 26, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |

    Can't wait to see Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Rove,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats Mitt the twit style. Got my popcorn.

    April 26, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  10. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Here we go again. Little Ayn Rand Paul is sure getting a lot of press. This "Tempest in a Teapot" will be gone before long.

    April 26, 2014 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  11. Hooper

    The local real estate values are bound to tumble during his visit.

    April 26, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Good grief does this guy EVER work??? No wonder they all want to be in Politics.

    April 27, 2014 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    Can't wait to see the defenders on this one, that we really need to sit down and listen to what he has to say. Has it occurred to anyone that we HAVE already done that, and that we are more than capable of drawing our own conclusions? He's a badly flawed, ideologically-driven candidate who has no appreciation or inkling of the devastation he would wreak on most of the country EXCEPT those fabulously wealthy people he's already pandering too. Have a view of the world that means you really don't have to say you're sorry about anything, and to glorify greed and individualism to the point where a simple act of charity and decency is somehow diminishing yourself, flies in the face of centuries of culture. Everything he does at this point is suspect, because its so blatantly driven by his own ambition, and anyone who cannot admit that is delusional.4 years of experience in the Senate, with no other public experience at either the local, state, or federal level, does not make you ready. Bob Dole was absolutely right when he pointed that out.

    April 27, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |