For Kelley Paul Presidential Politics Is Personal

Aug 23, 2014

Kelley Paul discusses Presidential politics in the WKU Public Radio studio.
Credit Photo by WKU Public Radio photojournalist Abbey Oldham

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's wife, Kelley, tells Joe Corcoran her concerns of what a Presidential run might do to her family.
Credit Photo by WKU Public Radio photojournalist Abbey Oldham

For months, almost since he got elected as Kentucky's junior senator, Rand Paul has been in the national news headlines as one of the original leaders of the Tea Party for his views on the Americans With Disabilities Act, foreign aid to Israel, filibusters and much more. With repeated trips around the country supporting Republican candidates, those headlines grew to speculation of his mounting a Presidential campaign of his own for 2016.

The Senator's repeatedly said he won't announce a decision on his Presidential plans until early next year, after he and his family have agreed on a decision; the main person in the family being his wife Kelley.

Kelley Paul came to our WKU Public Radio studio recently to speak with Joe Corcoran about the possibility of being the country's First Lady, what a Presidential race would do to her family and being her own woman.

Is it fair to say you don't want your husband to run for President?

I wouldn't say that. I would say though that we just have a lot more talking to do about the subject. I mean it's something that you don't go into lightly, being in the public eye is hard on a family and a marriage. I'm really proud of Rand, I think he's doing an amazing job, so I'd love for him to be able to expand that but we still have a few hurdles to cross before we actually pull the trigger on it.

And that is the main hurdle, what it would do to you family dynamics, your family's privacy?

I would say so, that's probably the main decision any family has to make, really. It's not a typical job where you just go to work and do your job, there are huge demands on your time and, obviously, there are going to be a lot of people attacking you...and that's part of it, that's part of politics, but it's on such a high scale when you're running for President, so we're thinking about it but not 100% there yet obviously.

Which way is the Senator leaning?

You know, I think it just depends on the day. He's really trying to do his job and make a difference right now and, when he's invited places, because people are interested in him as a candidate, he's going because that obviously sets the stage if he does decide to do it but we're still pretty far out. We don't talk about it that much to tell you the truth.

Did you ever think a girl from Russellville, Kentucky would be talking about becoming First Lady of the country?

Absolutely not. I am a small town girl from Russellville, Kentucky and, no, I never really dreamed of this.

You and your children must have already had a little taste of what Presidential politics would be about, as much as the Senator travels around to Iowa, New Hampshire, all over the country giving his talks and appearing with other Republican candidates.

Yes, that's true and in a lot of ways it's been really good for them, I mean they've had some really great experiences. Each one of our kids has gotten up on stage and given an introduction for their Dad and for their grandfather when he ran for President, so it's exposed them to what's involved in it and kind of raised their level of awareness about issues in the country, so in that way I think it's been good for our kids.

Is your family, though, more important than your husband's political ambitions?

Oh, obviously yes, I would say so.

When the Senator is home, do the two of you...I mean obviously there's a lot of minutia that goes on, mow the lawn, I've got to get the groceries, so-and-so's got to go to the you sit down and talk policy? Do you talk the issues over with him?

Yes, we do but obviously we still do all the regular stuff too. I mean, Rand was mowing the lawn last week but it's just regular life when he's home, when we can. Obviously he's pulled in all different parts of the state when he's in Kentucky, so we definitely have to make time to be together and to be with the kids.

But you had a background in a consulting firm in your previous life and one time you had Ted Cruz as a client?

Yes, that's interesting isn't it? During Rand's campaign I worked very closely with our media firm and so for a while I did work for them and did some GOP media consulting and work on some of the initial advertising campaign for Ted when he was running in the primary in Texas.

And in the past you've worked on speeches with your husband...

Oh yes...his speeches and his books. You know, I think that's kind of one of the fun things. We'll sit around in the evening and he'll read speeches aloud to me and get feedback or I'll try something, "I think you need to write something like this," you know it's a lot of back and forth. Rand's a really good writer but, it's interesting, he has more of a science background and he likes to write a lot of factual things so sometimes I try to help him bring a little more emotion into it.

Yeah, with his medical background

Uh huh, right.

I was wondering, with 100 Senators, 50 state governors, more than 300 members of Congress with, whether they admit it or not, have in the back of their mind being in the White House...what do you think set rand Paul apart of being considered a really serious potential Presidential candidate, after being in the senate for only three years, the middle of his first term? What set Rand Paul apart?

I actually think that it's probably the fact that he wasn't a career politician and doesn't really have any desire to have this decades-long career in the Senate. If anything, his background as a surgeon and a doctor, he likes to get things done and, obviously, the Senate moves at a glacial pace. And, from an early moment, he was like, "I don't want to be up here and just 'go along to get along', I want to either bring attention to the issues that I care about, that I think would make the country a more prosperous and stronger place and put myself out there and if I get too much flak for it or people don't agree, that's fine, I'm happy going back to being a physician. I either want to make a difference or go home."

Does criticism against your husband hurt you, hurt your feelings when he's criticized?

Um, sometimes yeah, I would like to say...

Do you personalize it? Take it personally?

I try not to but I'm human, I mean sure, I wish I was thicker skinned because I'm still relatively new to all of this, so I try not to. I actually don't watch a lot of television or look on the internet that much, there are certain times in my life when I try to be a little more detached from it, but yeah, it can hurt.

And knowing that it's only going to get worse if he throws his hat into the Presidential ring.

Absolutely, yeah.

Have your boys inherited the politician's gene?

You know, they've all had a toe in it from time to time...

You have three sons...

Yes and, as I said, they've all gotten up on stage and done some introductions. They like to talk politics, they're all involved at different levels. You know, my son, Duncan, he started the young Republicans club at Bowling Green High, so they've had a young Republicans club for the last two years that he started and my younger son, Robert, was in it. And William's been involved with, like, Young Americans for Liberty and some of those groups on the campus of UK. It's hard to be in our family and not be in politics a little bit.

Yeah, that would be the third generation if your sons get into it...

Yeah they've always been big admirers of their grandfather too...

I'm sure, Texas Congressman Ron Paul we're talking about. Kelley Paul thank you so much for giving us a few minutes today, we really appreciate you coming in.

Thank you so much for having me I enjoyed it.