Rand Paul Tries to Woo Iowa Pastors

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The first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses are still at least 16 months away, but an invite-only meeting held at a Des Moines hotel on Wednesday is the sort of an event that could determine Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s presidential aspirations.

In recognition of the fact those with a Biblical worldview are traditionally the largest voting bloc in the Iowa Caucuses, Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign invited about 20 key Iowa pastors for a sit-down lunch with no question off-limits. Each pastor was also given an 18-minute DVD that included information about Paul’s Christian testimony and his stance on Israel. Paul has been in the news recently for publicly denying that he once wanted to cut off U.S. aid to Israel, despite the fact in 2011 he was a vocal proponent of it.

One of the pastors in attendance, Mike Demastus of Ft. Des Moines Church of Christ, is the kind of activist you have to win over if you’re going to win the Iowa Caucuses.

“It wasn’t off-the-record and (the campaign) specifically said they wanted pastors there who were not pro-Rand,” said Demastus, who caucused for Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008. “I probably knew at least half of those guys, because we’re all pretty active politically.”

By doing this, Rand Paul was taking a necessary step in Iowa his father was hesitant to take. I was in a private roundtable with Ron Paul and a group of social conservative activists during the last caucus cycle, and to say it was a bit of an awkward exchange would be like saying Lady Gaga is a bit flamboyant. But as part of his ongoing mission to show he’s not just like his dad, while still trying to maintain prominence with his father’s libertarian base, Rand went on the charm offensive.

“(Rand) was very cordial and took the time to meet with each of us individually,” Demastus said. “That was brave and I give him a lot of credit for that. It was nice to see him being open and sharing a little bit about his personal journey. Several of us were talking before Rand came in, and we all agreed because of his father Rand had about a 0% chance of getting our support. I was more impressed after the meeting, even though I still didn’t agree with him on several things.”

Demastus got to ask the first question of the senator, and he said he was disappointed with Rand’s answer.

“I asked him about his ‘let the states decide on marriage’ stance, and how we can stand by that when we have federal judges attempting to overturn our state marriage amendments across the country,” Demastus said. “He told me he didn’t think this was an issue that can be won legally, and that we may need to just do our own marriage thing in the church building.”

Demastus said he thought Rand’s answer was “retreatist.”

“It sounded to me like ‘let’s just retreat back to our churches and make our last stand there’ like the Alamo, and I just don’t agree with that philosophy at all. Rand was giving us a plan that just can’t be worked out in the real world, especially with our religious liberty under attack. When I asked him about that he pushed back against me, and never really answered my question. I don’t think he’s worked some of this stuff out yet to its ultimate conclusion. I’m a pastor of a modest church in Des Moines, so if I can ask him questions like this that stump him, what happens when he gets out on a national stage?”

Demastus also said that Paul did promise “to issue an executive order rescinding IRS regulations restricting what pastors can say and I do appreciate that.”

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There is one key thing which Demastus whole-heartedly agrees with Paul.

“Rand is attempting to unite us with his movement to defeat a common enemy and I like that,” Demastus said. “I not only agree with him, but I think it’s an imperative. There’s no hope if we don’t do that, except the common enemy isn’t just Democrats. It’s whoever is against freedom no matter what party they’re in.”

Demastus says this time around he’s looking for someone that can unite enough limited government advocates and social conservatives to win the nomination, but he’s unsure Rand Paul is the right champion.

“If Ted Cruz is in the race I’d probably prefer him,” Demastus said. “I’ve met with Ted and listened to him, and he seems like the only guy who takes the stage without worrying about his political posturing. He can articulate what it means to be a conservative as well as just about anybody I can remember. He’s just as comfortable talking to us as he is talking to more liberty-minded groups. I think Cruz may be the superior guy to actually unite those two camps because he’s the better communicator.”

(Steve Deace is a nationally-syndicated talk show host and also the author of the new book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.) 



  • Patriot for Christ

    Very insightful article. Thank you.

  • NJGooner

    Wow what a back-handed the compliment(s) the pastor has for Rand! How again you are going to win the marriage question- keep being a troll like CND Cruz who has zero solution even by profession is a shyster. Rand is through and through pro-liberty and pro-America, if you still have doubts about that, take a hike because you will never will see the forest and “promised land” what America can become with peace and freedom for all. Keep nagging like a 50 year old brutalized French housewife- ( Yeah Randy OK, but Cruzy is hot)- mindless heads leading spiritually a nation who has gone astray for a long time

    • eeee_ac1933

      NJGooner, your insults are not helpful. Cruz is no troll, and no shyster, and you do your own case no good by telling lies. People who disagree with you are not mindless and battered and blind.

  • JScott

    Got to love this sad little gem…”Several of us were talking before Rand came in, and we all agreed because of his father Rand had about a 0% chance of getting our support.”

    • eeee_ac1933

      Well, there is nothing wrong with a little bias between friends; after actually talking to Rand, many of the folks began to come around, it sounds like. That is how a candidate expands their base: by making people like them more and more, each time they meet. Cutting through the misinformation reported by the hostile media, is another challenge, of course…. Steve is a good egg, though, despite his goof above.

  • JScott

    “…cut off U.S. aid to Israel, despite the fact in 2011 he was a vocal proponent of it.” , of course you also conveniently left out that he was a vocal proponent of cutting off all aid to Israel’s enemies as well. Israel doesn’t need the US to be their sugar daddy, they need us to stay out of their business. His views are much more nuanced than you describe and thinking people who choose so can watch that interview here http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/abc-news-subway-series-sen-rand-paul-12836096

  • KenStarr

    “Steve Deace barely made it out of community college in one piece, and then loosely attended a real college for a while….Because he’s not that educated”

    Maybe we really shouldn’t be listening to a word you say…?

    • dan

      you’re right! We should probably listen to Mr. Obama cause he went to Harvard right….

  • Ash Pagan

    simple solution:

    vote the christianists out !

  • eeee_ac1933

    Steve, this is not a bad article overall, but you are parroting the estab-media when you say that “Paul has been in the news recently for publicly denying that he once wanted to cut off U.S. aid to Israel, despite the fact in 2011 he was a vocal proponent of it.” The correct sentence would be “Mainstream media have been reporting Rand Paul is a liar about Israel… but they are conflating to confuse, per usual.” As you know, just because the teevee says it, does not make it so.

    Rand has pretty much always thought foreign aid of all sorts (especially international dole) is a counterproductive policy; the argument for not giving foreign aid to Israel, is that you can take away the billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid we give to the Arab-majority countries which surround Israel, and at the same time play fair and cut aid to Israel as well. Since they have a stronger domestic economy that the others put together, this does not hurt them.

    What the *actual* statement Rand made… as you can see if you read past the ‘headlines’… is that he never brought forth a bill in the Senate (or an amendment or whatnot) that would cut aid to Israel. That is true; Rand has talked about the philosophy of foreign aid, but never put his name or his vote behind a concrete proposal to defund Israel. First of all, because Rand would rather see us defend our enemies of their foreign aid, first. He has specifically put his name to proposals for ending aid to Libya, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and maybe a few more countries that we have little interest in subsidizing, especially since we literally borrow money from somewhere else (wall street or EU or japan or china) to do so. He has talked about eventually ending all foreign aid, but never put forth a bill to do so in one fell swoop, nor a bill specifically singling out Israel for cuts (and in fact Rand has signed bills that include foreign aid to Israel).

    Here is a place that has video clips, even though I disagree with their overall analysis.

    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2014/08/07/truth-serum-rand-paul-and-simon-rosenberg

    Now, whether you accept that there is a difference between advocating in speeches for an eventual end to all foreign aid, and a specific legislation-package doing so, is up to the individual. Rand thinks the distinction matters; this makes sense if you are a politician who has long-term goals (eventually end all foreign aid) which are best accomplished gradually in terms of actual legislative steps (start by ending foreign aid to Libya after Benghazi).

    Along the same lines, whether the aid-to-Israel-question is crucially important or not, depends on where you put your priorities. If you want to help cut spending, aid to Israel would help a bit, but it is way less than 1% of just the *deficit* so it will not help much. If you are more worried about foreign policy issues, aid to Israel helps them boost their own military, but we could also help defend them (as part of our alliance) with our own military rather than with foreign aid, should the need arise. If you see foreign aid as a religious issue, something that we ought to do morally, then the issue is going to be more important to you that the mere dollar-amount may otherwise indicate.

    Hope this long explanation helps.

    p.s. As the quotes in the article suggest, Ted Cruz is also an excellent pick; he and Rand have very similar voting records, and very similar overall policies. Cruz is considerably younger, he will be in his early 40s come 2016, whereas Rand will be in the latter half of his 50s by then. The main advantage for Rand over Cruz is that he does better in specific swing-states: Rand and Cruz are about the same in NC CO NV VA MN WI PA FL from the latest polls that I know about, but Rand is much stronger in the early-primary-states of Iowa & New Hampshire, plus the key swing state (18 electoral college votes) of Ohio.

    In that last one, a Rand-vs-Hillary election in Ohio today would give Hillary the win by 4 points, which is just about what Romney managed in 2012 versus Obama, losing by 3 points… but Rand has two years to hammer on his target and take Ohio. Cruz is not popular in Ohio polls, for some reason (I have no theories… it is a weird anomaly but there are about six polls which all show the same outcome by Quinnipac over the past year or so). Cruz would lose to Hillary right now by 14 points, which is a very steep climb, especially in a swing-state that repubs have trouble winning usually. Assuming he can gain a handful of points over the next two years, Rand will have 249ev, and just needs to make up significant ground in in VA + MN to beat Hillary. Assuming the same for Cruz, he would have 221ev, and would need to make up significant ground in VA + MN + OH + NH + IA to beat out Hillary.

    p.p.s. Also very interesting is a late July poll for California, which shows Rand down by 9 points there to Hillary… unheard of since the 1980s for a repub to be within single-digits of the 55ev that California offers. Maybe with the convention in Cleveland Ohio, and a VP from California like Condi Rice, it would be possible for Rand to do the unthinkable. :-)