LEADERS

Rand Paul

Rand Paul TIME 100
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The libertarian champion

Any political party worth its salt is always on the lookout for converts. But no one in either party today brings the level of missionary zeal to the task that Rand Paul does. From Berkeley, Calif., to Detroit, my Kentucky colleague has been cheerfully clearing a path for Republican ideals in the unlikeliest precincts. And he’s done it with rare magnanimity, making common cause with anyone who agrees that an all-powerful government in Washington is a threat to individual liberty — and to the American project itself.

He has also embraced the 11th commandment made famous by Reagan, “not to speak ill of any fellow Republican.” But the real secret to Rand’s rapid rise from a Bowling Green operating room to the center of American politics is his authenticity. It’s a trait that’s obvious to anyone who has seen him come out of a D.C. television studio in Ray-Bans and shorts, or hold the Senate floor for half a day to get answers from an imperious White House.

Spend five minutes with Rand and it’s clear he doesn’t care what you look like or where you’re from. He’s beating the bushes for anyone who prizes liberty, and he’s forcing people to rethink the Republican Party. He’s showing them we’re as serious about the Bill of Rights today as we were in 1860, when another Kentucky Republican built our party’s first great coalition. He’s having fun too. And that’s contagious.

McConnell, the senior Senator from Kentucky, is the Senate minority leader

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