The way party politics work, especially in the GOP, is that you have to kiss a sufficient amount of a** before it is "your turn" to become president.
McCain tried to derail the chosen son with the Bush brand name. McCain felt it was his time (and he was right, he was at his peak). But the machine had other designs. He was attacked and then told to back off and if he did so he would get the nomination in the next round.
Romney was told to back off in 08' to make way for McCain. Romney was then guaranteed the nomination for 12'.
All the "candidates" knew this except Dr. Paul... who knew it but wasn't going to accept it. Something happened and he backed off. We will never know what pressure they exerted on him... or maybe they guaranteed Rand Paul a shot in return for capitulation.
Research the attacks in SC on McCain in 2000. Pretty disgusting.
"One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas" Victor Hugo
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