Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who’s pegged as a likely White House contender come 2016, waded dove headfirst into the Common Core State Standards debate this week, with what seems like a pre-emptive campaign jab at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another Republican mulling over a potential presidential run.
Here’s what he said to Breitbart in an exclusive interview while stumping for Rep. Walter Jones in North Carolina:
I don't see Common Core being—if you're for Common Core and you're for a national curriculum, I don't see it being a winning message in a Republican primary. If there's a Republican candidate out there—let's just say there's a hypothetical one that's for Common Core. I'm saying that that hypothetical candidate that's for Common Core probably doesn't have much chance of winning in a Republican primary."
The shot across the bow seemed to be aimed directly at Bush, who remains a steadfast supporter of the common core despite the widespread rejection of the standards by the Republican Party. At the very least, should Paul and Bush decide to run, Paul’s remarks forecast a likely education policy showdown on the presidential campaign trail.
It’s no surprise that Paul is part of the anti-common core camp. In addition to Republicans generally distancing themselves from the standards, Paul’s libertarian brand of conservatism has him typically lurching away from anything that smacks of a federal initiative.
Indeed, Paul, who sits on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has long favored eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, and is an ardent champion for school choice policies. Most recently, he teamed up with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the HELP Committee, to push proposals that would allow Title I dollars to follow students to the school of their choice, even a private school.
As we wrote over the summer, should Paul run for president, his education policy platform likely wouldn’t veer much, if at all, from proposals he’s supported in the past.