Interviews with more than a dozen sources close to the Kentucky senator, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, painted a picture of an underfunded and understaffed campaign beaten down by low morale.
They described an operation that pitted a cerebral chief strategist against an intense campaign manager who once got into a physical altercation with the candidate’s bodyguard. And they portrayed an undisciplined politician who wasn’t willing to do what it took to win — a man who obsessed over trivial matters like flight times, peppered aides with demands for more time off from campaigning and once chose to go on a spring-break jaunt rather than woo a powerful donor.
They sketched a portrait of a candidate who, as he fell further behind in polls, no longer seemed able to break through. Paul, lionized as “the most interesting man in politics” in a Time magazine cover story last year, was supposed to reinvent the Republican Party with his message of free-market libertarianism, his vision of a restrained foreign policy and his outreach to minorities.
Instead, he has been overshadowed by louder voices like Donald Trump’s and better-funded figures like Jeb Bush. His theory of the 2016 primary — that Republican voters would reward a candidate who promised fresh ideas and an unconventional approach — has not been borne out in reality.
Rand Paul, once seen as a top-tier contender, finds his presidential hopes fading fast as he grapples with deep fundraising and organizational problems that have left his campaign badly hobbled.