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Eye On Candidates
July 24, 2015

Marco Rubio and Rand Paul Waging Low-Key Campaigns

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio shared a Washington Post headline yesterday related to their questioning of Secretary of State John Kerry over the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. Within the last few days they’ve also shared the same general theme in two different articles, with both CNN and Politico asking why they haven’t been heard from much on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

CNN yesterday had this article:

Where is Rand Paul?

Rand Paul is doing something unusual: Blending into the crowd.

Instead of dominating national headlines this summer by picking fights with high-profile competitors or scrambling to secure the best real estate at every Republican Party cattle call, Rand Paul has been working the campaign trail quietly, taking a deliberate approach to national media and choosing his battles carefully.

While Donald Trump has sucked up much of the media's gaze, the Kentucky senator's recent efforts have not stood out like they once did.

This morning Politico has a similar article on Rubio:

Marco Rubio flies under the radar

Where is Marco Rubio?

The Florida senator has remained firmly in the top tier of Republican presidential candidates in terms of polling and fundraising. But while his fellow GOP contenders are grabbing the mic at every opportunity, he’s mostly taking a different approach: lying low.

The two candidates may share low visibility at the moment, but they are in much different positions. Rubio, the Politico article notes, is among the frontrunners, while Paul has been towards the middle of the pack, according to CNN.

Rubio’s relatively low profile on the campaign trail seems to be deliberate. More Politico:

Instead of launching some kind of major strategic blitz to try and gain ground, Rubio is opting to just sit tight….

His aides say they plan to play the long game, not getting overly excited about polling dips or increases, or the latest shiny bauble in the press. Their focus, they say, is getting Rubio’s message out and staying competitive in the early primary states.

“We believe we could win in each of the first four early states,” Rubio campaign communications director Alex Conant said.

Paul’s absence from the spotlight seems more a matter of being eclipsed by businessman Donald Trump as the leading target of his rivals’ jabs (as well as not being on the receiving end of Trump’s return salvos), according to CNN:

[F]aced with so much competition from other candidates clamoring for air time, Paul has struggled to break out….

National news outlets, including CNN, have poured coverage on Trump at such a rate that lesser candidates have learned they their best chance for getting air time is to attack or challenge him. But Paul has somehow avoided Trump's hot fire….

For much of the shadow primary -- before presidential candidates officially announced -- Paul was the GOP establishment's whipping boy. He was caught up in loud disputes with almost every contender, including Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, who have all tussled with him at some point….

Paul's less vocal presence could also be partially shaped by world events, one analyst told CNN. Paul's longtime defense of non-interventionist foreign policy might not play as well in a time when the threat of ISIS weighs heavy on the minds of many Americans.

Both articles are well worth reading to get a fuller sense of where the two campaigns are at this moment.

Being out of the spotlight is rarely beneficial for any candidate, although most of their rivals face similar problems getting the public and the media’s attention at the moment. Both Paul and Rubio will likely need to find a way to shift attention back to their candidacies if they are going to be successful in 2016.