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Kristol: There's room in the GOP for Rand Paul

Bill Kristol, editor in chief of the Weekly Standard and a contributor to The Post, was one of the national security hawks contacted in March by allies of Trey Grayson with a warning about Rand Paul. "On foreign policy, [global war on terror], Gitmo, Afghanistan, Rand Paul is NOT one of us," wrote Cesar Conda, a former aide to Dick Cheney, to Kristol and to other conservatives.

Now that Paul is the GOP's nominee in Kentucky, what does Kristol think of him?

"Paul ran a good campaign," Kristol said. "He did a good job of being less like his dad -- seeming less 'out there' -- so if you were a normal Kentucky voter you thought you were voting for a Sarah Palin-like, anti-Washington figure, not someone who bought into the whole Ron Paul agenda."

Would Kristol welcome Rand Paul into the GOP fold?

"It's a big Senate," said Kristol, laughing. "It'll be a bigger Republican caucus next year. There'll be room for him. It's a very small price to pay for a very helpful and hopeful upsurge of tea party, anti-establishment feeling."

And is it better to have Ron Paul's supporters working inside the GOP, even if it means they can knock off candidates supported by Cheney, Conda, et al?

"Was it better for the Democrats to have the MoveOn people join them? Yes, obviously. People like me were disgusted by them, and they did some things that were disgusting, like the General Petraeus ad. At the end of the day, in American politics, you can't have a big, energetic grass-roots movement without having a lot of elements of it that you're not going to personally like or agree with. But to be fair to Rand Paul, there's a lot of distance between Rand Paul's agenda, which isn't exactly mine, and the caricature of nativism or isolationism."

By David Weigel  |  May 19, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Libertarians  
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