CONCORD, N.H. -- The contrast could not have been clearer. Where Donald Trump flew into this first-in-the-nation primary state yesterday on his personal helicopter, Senator Rand Paul flew in on Southwest – and had coffee spilled on him, to boot.
Where Trump was greeted by a horde of reporters, only a handful came to hear Paul speak before the Merrimack County Republican Committee at a Holiday Inn here. And where Trump is heavy on the style and oftentimes light on the substance, Paul delivered a policy-rich speech in a dry tone.
But not without tweaking Trump today for his insistence that President Obama release his complete birth certificate.
“I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned,” Paul said. “I want to see the original long-form certificate, with embossed seal, of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.”
“Seriously don’t you think we need to see that?” he said, adding that Trump had donated to Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Paul, a Kentucky Republican and favorite of the Tea Party movement, is in New Hampshire as part of a book tour. He had flirted in recent months with jumping into the presidential race, but told reporters after his speech that he would likely opt out because his father – Representative Ron Paul, of Texas – had formed an exploratory committee.
“I’m afraid that I could be kicked out of my apartment,” he said. “He’s my landlord in Washington. Can you imagine the family strife if we ran against each other?”
Paul, though, vocalized a sentiment felt by many Republicans who are concerned over the amount of attention that candidates like Trump are capturing -- and that it could divert from more serious-minded discussions over cutting the deficit and growing the economy.
“Let’s look to Republicans who not only talk the talk but walk the walk,” Paul said. “If we find the right candidate I see no reason why we can’t win in 2012.”
After his speech, Paul went on to criticize Trump in harsh terms, saying that the business mogul lacked a basic economic know-how and was wrong to suggest that gasoline prices could be lowered by bullying oil-rich countries.
“He’s always complaining about the president’s education,” Paul told reporters. “It's like, what economic school teaches you that you can have a bully for a president who sets the prices by just telling countries what price they should charge? That to me shows an economic simplicity that really may not be equivalent to the stature of being president.”
Paul also said that if Republicans select Mitt Romney as their nominee, the party would be hamstrung in taking on President Obama’s health care plan. The health care law Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts has many similarities to the national plan. Romney has said that he opposes the national plan because he thinks it infringes on state’s rights.
“It ought to be vetted and discussed and explained,” Paul said. “It becomes much more of a mixed message rather than a real clean-cut message. It will make it more difficult.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.