Rand Paul's 'Long Haul' Cut Short

Things didn't go the way Paul might have hoped as he pursued his presidential aspirations. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, maybe the necessities of a modern presidential campaign were just a bit too much.  

A former strategist for the Republican said while Paul's drive to become president was never in question, the first-term senator's national ambition "clashed against his personality – his prickliness, not wanting to do certain things and not being comfortable" with everything from making the ask on the fundraising circuit to what is asked of a candidate in this digital age. That was on public display one day last October, when Paul's campaign aired an entire day of his life on the road on the Internet. During a stop in Iowa at a fast-food joint, Paul answered negative questions about himself, demurring to the camera that he was just doing what his advisers told him to do – "riding around Iowa, looking at cornfields and answering silly questions."  

Rand Paul Suspends Presidential Campaign

Rev. Robert Johnson talks to Paul, R-Ky. at a campaign stop at Platinum Kutz barber shop in Des Moines ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he will suspend his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, opting to focus instead on his on his re-election effort this year.

The announcement came two days after the libertarian-leaning senator finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses with just 4.5 percent of the vote, well behind the two other senators in the race who have gained much more traction, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. 

Rand Paul Doubles Down on Wonky

Paul thanked volunteers and stuck to a wonky script on Monday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

WAUKEE, Iowa — Sen. Rand Paul has employed a close-to-the-bone strategy for the Iowa caucuses, relying on the enthusiasm of student volunteers to get out the vote and, down to the wire, going all in on wonky policy to make his case.  

"You guys have made a million phone calls for me and I really appreciate it," he told a rowdy crowd at the Hy-Vee Market Grille here Monday.    

Going Full Grassley on the Iowa Caucuses

Kasich, left, and Grassley address a rally at the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

WATERLOO, Iowa — Republican candidates learn a lot on the trail when they're competing in Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Along with the sanctity of ethanol and the primacy of pork products, they eventually grasp this is Sen. Charles E. Grassley's state. When you run for president here, at some point, Iowa's senior senator will appear alongside you, and everyone knows who he is.  

"I didn't know Grassley was going to show up," said Bill Davidson, a bartender at The Supervisors Club, where the senator was introducing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Davidson sounded impressed, as if the event, being repeated over and over throughout the state in the run-up to Monday's caucuses, had been elevated.  

What Does It Take to Bring Cruz, Rubio and Paul to D.C.?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The chance to vote for a procedural measure on a bill that would enact more stringent restrictions on Syrian and Iraqi refugees trying to enter the country drew all all three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for the presidency to Washington 12 days before the Iowa caucuses. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida were, as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. remarked, "going to actually be in the Senate to vote. It's a big day here."

Cruz is the anti-establishment base’s alternative to the candidacy of New York City billionaire Donald Trump, and Rubio has become a potential fallback option for a party establishment unready for the other two.

Kentucky Democrats Running out of Time to Challenge Paul

With a week to file, no Rand Paul challenger has emerged after Democrats in his home state experienced big losses statewide last November. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky Democrats experienced a statewide political bloodbath in November – one that washed away the ambition of one rising star, state Auditor Adam Edelen, to challenge Sen. Rand Paul, the Republican leading a long-shot bid for the presidency, for re-election. Since then, nobody has stepped forward.  Following the announcement last week by veteran Andrew Horne that he would not challenge Paul, with only a week to go before the Jan. 26 filing deadline, most Democrats there are eyeing one man as a viable candidate to challenge him: Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.  

Gray – the second-term “nonpartisan” mayor of this Democrat-leaning metropolis in eastern-Kentucky  – confirmed to the Lexington Herald-Leader he was considering a run, but has not said more.  

Paul Admits 'Uphill Climb' for 'Audit the Fed'

Paul is pushing his vote on auditing the Federal Reserve ahead of a GOP debate this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

He may be at risk of falling off the main presidential debate stage, but Sen. Rand Paul is at long last getting his colleagues to vote on his proposal to audit the Federal Reserve.  

The Kentucky Republican said he tried and failed to get Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to schedule a vote on the central bank legislation back when the Democrats held the majority. When asked if he would ultimately like to wind down the Federal Reserve, Paul focused on the task at hand.  

Rubio: ISIS Would've Lobbied for USA Freedom Act

Rubio, a presidential candidate, slammed the USA Freedom Act on Monday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"If ISIS had lobbyists in Washington, they would have spent millions to support the anti-Intelligence law that was just passed with the help of some Republicans now running for president."  

That's what Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Monday in a foreign policy speech of the surveillance overhaul that he's long opposed, drawing a contrast with his Republican presidential rivals from the Senate. But the rhetoric against the USA Freedom Act has not led to concern by supporters of his White House bid who also backed — or even advocated for — to have concerns about Rubio or his message.  

Rand Paul 'Festivus' Tradition Takes New Form

Paul released the "wastebook" Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Races Where Spending Bill Vote Could Be an Issue

Neither Republicans nor Democrats, whose Senate committee is led by Tester, see a clear political win from the omnibus vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress hadn't even left town when political campaigns in some of the most competitive House and Senate races zeroed in on Friday’s vote on a massive government spending bill. But rather than cleaving along partisan lines, Democrats and Republicans — incumbents and challengers alike — came down on both sides of the issue depending on their states and districts, suggesting national party committees aren't likely to take up the vote in their national messaging. The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, voted for the bill – even though some of his most vulnerable colleagues opposed it – while Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester of Montana opposed it, with similar divergences in his own party. In the case of this bill, every candidate is on their own.  

Pennsylvania Senate Sen. Patrick J. Toomey voted against the bill, criticizing it as an instrument of the government’s “out-of-control spending” that would exacerbate the deficit, fund the resettlement of Syrian refugees and implement “damaging” federal regulations. And yet, in a statement released after the vote, he went on to tout that the bill for which he did not vote includes bipartisan proposals that he said will support jobs in the Keystone State. He also praised the bill’s suspension of the medical device tax, support for the military, Alzheimer’s research and health care for 9/11 responders.   That’s a contradiction that former Rep. Joe Sestak, who’s vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Toomey in 2016, seized on in Twitter messages Friday afternoon. https://twitter.com/JoeSestak/status/677930799744868354