Rand Paul has defied his party before, but never so blatantly.
Sen. Rand Paul announced that he will deliver a response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Paul (R-Ky.) delivered a State of the Union response last year as the Tea Party member, shortly after the official Republican Party response came from Senator Marco Rubio.
The opposition party has responded to the President’s State of the Union since 1966. In 2011, on the heels of the Tea Party triumph in 2010, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann gave the Tea Party response, in addition to the Republican Party response. Since then, the Tea Party response has happened every year, just after the Republican Party response to President Obama.
Now, viewers will be treated to three responses to Obama’s State of the Union. The official Republican Party response, delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the Tea Party response, delivered by hard right Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and now the “I am definitely running for President” response from Rand Paul.
Or put another way:
For those keeping score, three Republicans will deliver SOTU responses: McMorris Rodgers (official), Mike Lee (Tea Party), Rand Paul (YOLO)— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) January 23, 2014
The official Republican Party response has a simple rationale: that President Obama is representing his party, and that the main opposition party is representing their members in responding to him. The Tea Party response shows that the Tea Party does not feel adequately represented by the Republican Party response, and so they are speaking up for their members.
Rand Paul’s response works on an entirely different calculus: this isn’t about representing the people not covered by President Obama, Rep. Rodgers or Sen. Lee. This is about expanding Paul’s brand and getting some free national coverage. In fact, Paul’s speech will largely be judged by how memorable it is compared to Rodgers’ and Lee’s responses.
It’s a secret to zero people that Paul will soon be running for president in open competition with members of the GOP, but Paul is getting a head start on the disregard for his own party.