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How to Handle a Problematic Father

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In his recent announcement of candidacy, Rand Paul faced a dilemma in how to acknowledge the presence of his father, former Congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul. The family patriarch has compiled a long history of isolationism, support for crackpot conspiracy theories, expressions of sympathy for Iran and hostility to Israel. Such controversial perspectives would obviously interfere with his son’s efforts to build a winning coalition.

So the candidate’s only introduction of his father came when he discussed his medical career. He asked the crowd: “I’d like you to join me and thank my mother and dad. With my parents help I was able to make it through the long years of medical training to become an eye surgeon.” Nothing—not a word—about the other career the Senator shares with his father: politics. In handling his dad’s presence, Senator Paul displayed the deft skill that makes him a formidable politician.

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