National Democrats throw one-two punch against Rand Paul, Paul LePage

The Maine GOP convention has yet to begin and already national Democrats are using the event to land a one-two punch against both U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and our own Gov. Paul LePage.

The Democratic National Committee on Friday will publish a short web ad comparing “The Two Pauls.” Sen. Paul — a Tea Party favorite and son of the radical libertarian U.S. Rep. Ron Paul — is widely considered one of the GOP’s top presidential prospects for 2016. He’s got broad appeal with the party’s growing libertarian wing, and enjoys the enthusiastic support of many young people.

In Maine, the party is trying hard to rebrand itself with the same “big tent” identity that the party used to enjoy — one big party with room for all the views on the conservative spectrum. A party that can include the Tea Party as well as more traditional, fiscal conservatives.

It’s similar to the self-autopsy conducted by the national GOP after Mitt Romney loss the presidential election two years ago. The conclusion: The party must grow with young people, women and people of color.

Paul has been touring the country giving speeches and meeting with other Republicans, talking up the need to grow the Republican Party. He’s been reaching out, trying to grow the GOP brand.

The DNC’s video starts there, with a quote from Paul: “I think the Republican Party needs to evolve, change, grow, if we’re going to win again, and so I do want to be a part of that.”

It then quickly cuts to a mix of some of controversial comments by LePage and Paul: The one about the IRS being “the new Gestapo.” That time he told the NAACP to “kiss my butt.” That number with the “little beards.” Rand Paul saying “If there’s a war on women, I think they’ve won.” LePage saying private schools are the only way to get a good education, and Paul saying he’d do away with the Department of Education entirely.

I emailed Ian Sams, a spokesman for the DNC. He said the point of the ad is that as long as LePage and Paul are the face of the party, the GOP is in for bitter medicine.

“Rand Paul shares more than just a name with one of the most Tea Party governors in America. Rand Paul and Paul LePage are two peas in a very extreme pod – using offensive rhetoric to talk about women and African-Americans, while advocating policies that will hurt the middle class in Maine and across the country,” he said in a written statement. “As long as folks like Rand Paul and Paul LePage are leaders in the GOP, Republicans will struggle to grow their party and win.”

I can think of a whole mess of Republicans meeting in Bangor who will disagree with Sims. But either way, the ad shows that Maine will continue to have the nation’s attention going into November’s election.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.