Rand Paul likes to say that the Republican Party should follow the advice of painter Robert Henri, who said people should "paint like a man coming over a hill singing."
But Paul, one week away from an announcement that he is running for president, often seems like a man running down a hill so fast his feet can't keep up with his momentum.
As he prepares to take a formal step onto the biggest stage in politics, Kentucky's junior U.S. senator has previewed his campaign message as one of "winnability."
"Ted Cruz is a conservative — but it also goes to winnability," Paul recently said on The Kelly File on Fox television. "And people have to make a decision: Which is the Republican that can not only excite the base but can also bring new people into the party without giving up the principles?"
Never miss a local story.
But Paul's winnability argument seems to ignore the reality of his extremely long list of misstatements and curious policy zigzags that could make him the dream opponent of Hillary Clinton's possible opposition research team — if his Republican opponents don't bash him over the head with it first.
A few weeks ago, Paul stood in a ballroom in Lexington's downtown Hyatt, just steps away from Rupp Arena, and replayed for the crowd how he was in medical school at Duke in 1992 when Christian Laettner hit the shot that broke the heart of the Bluegrass State.
Paul offered a grin and a "no comment" when asked whether he cheered for Laettner.
This past weekend, as the Cats gutted out a win to return to the Final Four, the senator's Twitter feed looked like that of a true blue Wildcats fan, complete with #GoCats and #BBN hashtags.
That might seem too trivial to be labeled a campaign-killing flip-flop, but it's indicative of the countless changes in Paul as he gets closer to launching his presidential campaign from a podium in the Galt House in Louisville.
Last week, Paul spoke to a small group in Bowling Green, where he received a donation to his political action committee.
According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Paul riffed on government assistance for the unemployed but cautioned that Republicans can seem "callous" when taking on such issues.
"You know, I've had family members on unemployment insurance before so, yeah, I know it's not always easy for people," he told the audience.
The next day, Paul's staff couldn't or wouldn't say who those relatives are.
Regardless, it was a pretty far cry from an event in Lexington last year, when Paul suggested telling women who receive federal assistance that they shouldn't have any more children or risk losing their benefits.
"Maybe we have to say 'enough's enough; you shouldn't be having kids after a certain amount,'" Paul told a crowd at Commerce Lexington in January 2014.
American Bridge, the Democratic super PAC that is a clearinghouse for researching and cataloging Republican candidates' statements, was there to record Paul that day.
The group has been building a sizable file on him, including video and print statements, according to Ben Ray, the group's spokesman and a Kentucky native.
Last week, when asked about Paul's argument for "winnability," Ray seemed amused.
"Rand Paul wants to eliminate the departments of education, commerce, energy and HUD; turn Medicaid into a block grant, and eliminate assistance for families that can't afford heating oil in the winter," Ray said. "He's right about his run meaning 'winnability' in purple states — but don't anybody tell him it's for Democrats."
So far this year, Paul has decried nation-building, then proposed that the United States create a Middle Eastern country just for Kurds, which he called "Kurdistan." He followed that by offering a budget that dramatically increased military spending, offset by equally dramatic cuts on the domestic side.
Paul told Fox that gay marriage "offends" him, but he told The New York Times he's "not a crusader on social issues." He followed that by calling the debate over gay marriage a "moral crisis" in a nation in desperate need of a "revival."
Paul signed an open letter to Iranian officials, then said he did so only to "strengthen the president's hand" in diplomatic negotiations with Iran.
Heck, it wasn't even that long ago, before he was omnipresent on Fox News Channel, that Paul was joining with Democrats in questioning the cable network's journalistic integrity.
After his father was prevented from participating in a candidate forum in 2007, Paul told the Bowling Green Daily News: "We're not alone in really questioning Fox's credibility. The Democrats won't even debate on Fox anymore since they don't consider Fox to be an objective news network."
Think that one might come back to hurt a little bit?
The U.S. Senate is a deliberative body, where ideas don't necessarily require execution. The same cannot be said of being commander in chief.
When you're running for president, shooting from the hip is a good way to blow off whichever foot you don't stick in your mouth.
Nuance, changes in policy position and a lack of authenticity are all cancers to presidential campaigns.
None of Paul's statements and maneuvers happened in a vacuum. They happened in the modern political arena, where birth certificates are checked and The New York Times op-ed page will never let you forget that you put a dog on the roof of your car.
Not only will Paul's history of strange remarks and controversial statements be campaign fodder for a Democrat should Paul win the Republican nomination, but it's a safe bet that his Republican rivals or their allied super PACs will be running ads featuring that history.
Paul might be a legitimate contender for the nomination, but his past does serious damage to his argument for "winnability."
And that's probably not something to come over a hill singing about.