Inside the Beltway: Rand Paul’s moment

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The intentions are not to upstage or undermine the Republican Party. No, really. That’s what Sen. Rand Paul suggests about the official tea party response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. Mr. Paul should know. He is delivering the grass-roots retort on behalf of the Tea Party Express at the National Press Club, to ensure that the media and the Republican establishment don’t write the movement off as “dead,” organizers say.

“There’s a lot of energy that still comes from the tea party, and while they consider themselves mostly to be Republican, they occasionally will chastise even the Republican establishment. So they want an independent voice,” the Kentucky Republican advised CNN on Sunday.

He’s not out to chastise the Republican establishment, and promises to “emphasize” certain points that he believes Sen. Marco Rubio won’t broach when the Florida Republican gives the Republican response to Mr. Obama’s speech. One topic is of particular interest to Mr. Paul.

“We shouldn’t send foreign aid or money to people who are burning our flag and chanting ‘Death to America,’” he said. “I think I do represent a wing of the Republican Party who doesn’t want to send money to Egypt, or to several of these countries. I would put strings on the money that goes to Pakistan. I would say to Pakistan, ‘You don’t get more money until you release the doctor who helped us get Osama bin Laden.’”

The tea party agrees with him, Mr. Paul added. And about his own speech Tuesday:

“I see it as an extra response, I don’t see it necessarily divisive. You know, I won’t say anything on there like Marco Rubio is wrong,” he said, adding in summation, “None of the things I ran on as part of the tea party have been fixed. We’re still going down a hole as far as the debt crisis looming. And so we really have to still talk about spending. And we want to make sure there is still a voice for that.”

FROM THE TRAVEL OFFICE

The aforementioned State of the Union address will be in President Obama’s rearview mirror just hours after he finishes the pivotal speech. On Wednesday, Mr. Obama will be bound for Asheville, N.C., “for an event.” On Valentine’s Day, the president heads to Atlanta “for an event.” And on Friday, he journeys to Chicago “for an event.”

No details yet on the “event,” the White House says. But they’re coming. Soon.

BUMPER PATROL

“Barack 2012. Michelle 2016.”

— Bumper sticker spotted in Chevy Chase

NOT ENOUGH

Uh, about that federal pay raise:

“President Obama’s proposed 1 percent pay adjustment for 2014 is simply not enough. It is not enough to allow federal employees to make up lost ground from two-plus years of frozen pay. It is not enough to allow workers, most of whom earn very modest salaries ranging from $24,000 to $70,000, to maintain living standards. And it is not enough to send a message with any kind of clarity that the administration values the federal workforce and doesn’t believe it should continue to bear an enormously disproportionate share of deficit reduction,” says American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox.

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