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Another side to Ron Paul the pol: Dad

May 20, 2010 |  2:46 am

There he was, the familiar face of Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-like long-shot Republican presidential candidate from 2007-08 who raised some $35 million and came within more than 1,000 delegates of defeating John McCain to win the ultimately useless GOP nomination that year.

Paul was on the Fox News Channel this week, the one that so outrageously barred him from its 2008 New Hampshire Republican primary debate, even though Paul had done better in Iowa than some of the other ultimate losers allowed onstage, like Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.

Two years later Paul keeps popping up on TV, the blunt-talking cable antidote to those GOP suits on Capitol Hill who make Benadryl seem like a stimulant. But he was looking different this week; older for sure. After all, he turns 75 this summer, nearing the end of his 11th House term from Texas.

When you hear Paul talk, he usually seems to be reading, droning on about big government, big spending, the big Education Department and the Fed. Oh, and the Constitution, always the Constitution, as if it was some kind of special sacred document or something.

Rand Paul and Ron Paul

Paul is a weird one. A Republican who opposed the Iraq war. A congressman who's adamantly opposed to congressional spending earmarks, unless they're headed for his 14th District. In fact, the former ob-gyn has the charisma of a grapefruit breakfast.

Yet millions voted for him and many spent long wintry hours standing on bridges over Interstate highways holding his signs, as if their sheer will would force passing drivers to support their guy.

But this week Paul wasn't talking like a pol. He was talking like a pa.

His 47-year-old son, Rand, a Tea Party supporter, had won the GOP Senate nomination from Kentucky.

He had upset the hand-picked choice of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who now says he's 100% behind the eye doctor and will appear with him at a Saturday unity rally.

Rand the unknown did it by winning 109 of 120 counties against the better-known secretary of State, Trey Grayson, and racking up 15 times as many statewide votes as his father did in the presidential primary.

Dad was proud. But worried. Like many pols, he's had mixed feelings about an offspring following their parent's campaign footsteps. “I thought it was an overwhelming task," Paul the father told "Fox & Friends." "And as a parent I don’t want to see him put a lot of energy into it and, you know, be hurt."

Many politicians (and athletes) have said it's actually harder to watch a loved one play the game -- and be played -- than to take the beating themselves.

As a sign of Democrat worry and respect in this year of angry voters, Paul the son was attacked within hours of his victory by Jack Conway, the state attorney general, who during the long run-up to Nov. 2 will attempt to paint his opponent as some kind of fringe extremist.

The elder Paul admitted, in effect, he had not expected the primary victory. "I didn’t know how far we’ve moved with the freedom movement,” he added. 

But father Paul was feeling pretty dad-gummed good for now. "What he has done is way beyond my expectations," the dad said with trademark hyperbole. "And that is a very pleasant thing that has happened.”

Related item:

What Tuesday's votes really mean; Americans are mad

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

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