While the pastors uniformly praised Paul, some were wary. “That’s one area where I have some questions,” said Brad Cranston, director of Iowa Baptists for Biblical Values.
Paul also is wrestling with how to handle his father’s fervent supporters. Former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has an avid following in Iowa – they virtually control the state Republican Party machinery – but the son has some differences from the father.
He knows he can’t stray too far, but also that he has to show he’s his own person. Asked to spell out differences, he laughed, “It doesn’t make for a good Thanksgiving dinner, so I try to avoid doing that.”
One area, he said, was drugs.
“I haven’t come out in favor of legalizing drugs but I have come out in favor of saying don’t put kids in jail and lock them up and throwing away the key,” Rand Paul said. Ron Paul says that while he does not endorse drug use, he believes it’s up to parents, not the government, to stop children from using drugs.
Rand Paul also knows he can’t turn too far away from the conservative line on immigration. Paul got notice earlier this year when he urged changes, but he would not go as far as the so-called Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group of senators trying to forge a compromise.
Paul, for instance, would not commit to the kind of path to citizenship the group was seeking.
“If they don’t listen to me they make a mistake. I think I’m the bridge between the House and Senate.” Among his wishes: A tougher standard for measuring border security than the Gang of Eight is proposing.
Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader contributed.