Rubio, NRSC heads join Rand Paul's filibuster — and could get political boost

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and the heads of the National Republican Senatorial Committee joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in his filibuster against confirming John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency, a move that could have political benefits for all involved.

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Rubio has been carefully crafting one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate — one that closely mirrors Paul's.

Many have speculated that is partly aimed at ensuring there's no daylight between the two in case they both decide to run for president in 2016, giving Rubio equal claim to the Tea Party mantle. 

It also gives the Florida Republican another line of attack on President Obama — this time on foreign policy, an area he's increasingly focused on since he joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The involvement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the filibuster, and later of NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), gives the two another chance to attack Obama as well. It also allows Moran to bolster his conservative credentials. Cruz serves as vice chairman of the NRSC, along with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Cruz is no surprise. He has a strong constitutionalist Tea Party streak, and he was the second to join Paul, after fellow Tea Party Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).  But Moran, who is viewed as more of an establishment conservative, needs to build trust with the Tea Party as he tries to guide the NRSC's involvement in potentially contentious primaries.

Tea Party groups are already rallying to the cause. The conservative group FreedomWorks issued a statement Wednesday afternoon calling for other senators to "Stand with Rand."

The NRSC also tweeted support of the filibuster, asking followers to "stand with us.

Paul is fighting the nomination because of Brennan's hand in the drone program and the Obama administration's refusal to completely rule out drone strikes on U.S. civilians on American soil. The fight has inflamed civil libertarians in both parties, including elements of the Tea Party.

Paul promised during the filibuster to continue it for "as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court."


The support of other Republicans has the potential to boost Paul's political standing. 

One of his biggest political hurdles, should he run for the presidency, is appealing to mainstream conservatives wary of his libertarian foreign policy streak. The backing of his Senate Tea Party compatriots (and others) on this high-profile filibuster could help him do just that.

Others involved, like Lee, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the lone Democrat involved, seem to have little obvious political motivation for joining Paul. 

Toomey is another Tea Party favorite, while Wyden has been a strong critic of the drone program that Brennan has helped develop.