Kentucky's Tea Party libertarian Senator Rand Paul is continuing his climb through the GOP and towards the White House. His last big step was dropping controversy-ridden social media advisor and Senate aide Jack Hunter from his staff.
Hunter sent an email to the D.C.-based media outlet the Daily Caller on Sunday to formally announce his departure from Paul's office and his return to a career in political punditry. His resignation comes somewhat on the heels of a media explosion centered on the former South Carolina radio jockey's outwardly-offensive conservative past in his "Southern Avenger" character. Throughout his time in a Southern radio show host role from 1999 to 2012 when he joined Paul in D.C., Hunter made a name for himself with egregious comments. These included suggesting that Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth's "heart was in the right place" and toasting to the murderer's birthday every May 10, as well as donning a Confederate flag mask at public events.
Obviously, were Senator Paul to throw his hat into the ring for a Republican presidential ticket in 2016, Hunter's ethically questionable past would be an easy target for media and competitive campaigns to go after. So, the aide's resignation — and, let's be honest, a timely resignation like this one usually means somebody on the inside is most likely guiding you out the door — will, in the long run, probably be a boost to Senator Paul's tenure.
But before we chalk this one up as win for Rand Paul and move on to the next move in his GOP career, let's not forget that the Kentucky politician defended his ex-aide and his controversial commentary earlier this month in an interview with the Huffington Post.
After reaffirming his own affection for President Lincoln and the emancipation of American slaves right off the bat in the interview, Senator Paul went on to explain to the Post that Hunter had never acted in a discriminatory way, and that his earlier work in South Carolina was a form of youthful political showmanship. The senator called his aide "incredibly talented," but also acknowledged that his racially-charged writings were "incredibly stupid." He rejected the idea that Jack Hunter should be labeled a white supremacist and reiterated that if he ever did feel that way the aide would be fired in a heartbeat.
Well, maybe Senator Paul finally came around to admitting that claiming all Hispanic immigrants are "turning everywhere they settle into northern outposts of their Mexican homeland" and calling President Lincoln "one of the worst figures in American history" probably puts one on the wrong side of racial and progressive political discourse. Furthermore, it likely makes for an infectious personality to keep around in a political office.
So yes, final "mutual decision" on the staffer's resignation is overall a smart political move by the Rand Paul staff, but we must not forget the initial backing and support that came first. That's important too.