Rand Paul's got a message for Tea Party Republicans who support Donald Trump: The reality TV star is a "chameleon" who would hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton.
Update: Coverage of the second Republican debate.
Here's a bit of what Paul said to the Berkeley County Republican Party Saturday in Goose Creek, South Carolina, in an effort to cast himself as the true Tea Party conservative.
How could we have tea party conservatives in our country think that somehow Donald Trump’s going to help us. He’s the consummate insider. What’s wrong with Washington? People buying and selling politicians. What’s Donald Trump known for? Buying and selling politicians. ...
We are kidding ourselves to even consider someone who is such a chameleon that he’s been on every side of every issue. Wake up, America. Wake up, Republicans. All right, I’m a little bit annoyed. Here’s the thing. Does anyone remember when Ross Perot gave us Bill Clinton. Well, are you ready for Donald Trump to give us Hillary Clinton?
As I wrote Friday, Trump's brazen hostility toward the establishment is a bit of a siren song for Tea Party activists who want to tear down — or at least severely weaken — the federal government. That's hurt Paul, an original Tea Party favorite who has watched in disbelief as Trump has poached some of his base. Paul can't be much of a factor in the GOP race — let alone win it — without being the top choice of the Tea Party crowd. He has to discredit Trump to bring those Tea Party voters home.
That helps explain why Paul is focusing on Trump's credentials when lower-rung candidates and conservatives such as RedState.com Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson are pounding The Donald for ugly comments he made about Fox's Megyn Kelly after Thursday's GOP debate in Cleveland. To get Tea Party voters on his side, Paul needs to convince them that Trump isn't just a boor, but also a fake conservative who isn't really committed to limited-government principles.
To be clear, Paul spokesperson Sergio Gor said in an email to Vox, the Kentucky senator "believes Mr. Trump's comments about Megyn Kelly were inappropriate and offensive."
But the key for Paul is to disabuse conservatives of the notion that Trump is a champion for them and their issues. His frustration was evident on Saturday.
Do we want border security? Yes. Do we want to have the ability to protect our country from just unlawful mass migration? Yes. But do we want someone who has maybe something a little more intelligent to say than the Mexicans are going to pay for it. My goodness, is anybody listening to what’s being said?
Apparently not, senator. Apparently not.