(CNN) — A few weeks ago, Time Magazine ran its now-famous cover: “The Republican Savior: How Marco Rubio became the new voice of the GOP.” Only time will tell if the junior senator from Florida lives up to that billing, and it’s entirely possible that Time will be proven wrong in the coming months and years. But there’s one cover that the magazine could run now and be entirely confident in: “The Republican Messenger: How Rand Paul became the real voice of the GOP.”
That’s right. At least for the time being, tea party darling Sen. Rand Paul is the effective leader of the Republican Party. And that’s a pretty big deal. The GOP’s shellacking in 2012 has thrust a new generation of Republicans — including leaders like Rubio, Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Govs. Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie — into the spotlight. But it’s Paul who has become the clearest voice of the new guard in the Republican Party. And he is effectively driving the entire GOP message right now. Think about it. No one else in the GOP has been able to step into a real leadership position, no matter how hard they try. Paul Ryan? He’s back in the halls of Congress trying to figure out how to repackage his failed fiscal approach. John Boehner and Eric Cantor? Congressional Republicans have an approval rating in the low teens.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham? Each day they seem less like elder statesmen and more like Statler and Waldorf from the “Muppet Show.”
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