Washington (CNN) - As Republicans prepare to gather for their convention and formally nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul, has some optimistic advice for his father's ardent supporters.
Asked about the libertarian political movement that has grown up around his father in the 2008 and 2012 presidential election cycles, the Kentucky senator told CNN Thursday that his father has had "an enormous effect." The younger Paul noted that there are now congressional candidates running around the country that were inspired by his father "and some of them are winning [in some GOP primaries]."
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Sen. Paul also pointed out that his father's supporters have "taken over some of the apparatus of the Republican Party in Nevada, Iowa, different places, Maine."
"So I think there will be a long lasting influence," continued the younger Paul, "I think he has encouraged a lot of people to participate, and what I keep telling them is don't give up on the party because the Democratic Party has a lot of different interests and they all stay in the Democratic Party and I think they have influence."
After pointing out that libertarians have sometimes preferred to associate themselves with political parties other than the GOP, the staunchly fiscal conservative lawmaker said "There just isn't much historical evidence that third parties are going to win in our country . . . . But I just think we can have a big influence in the Republican Party."
The Kentucky senator also suggested that his father's brand of conservatism may have some advantages over more establishment Republicanism in some parts of the country.
"I also think there are certain areas of the country where Republicans cannot win or don't seem to be able to win – California, New England. Whereas a little different Republican, a libertarian Republican – a little bit less aggressive [on] foreign policy, maybe a little bit more socially tolerant and still fiscally conservative – I think could win in places like Maine, Massachusetts, places like that," explained the younger Paul.
Asked about the impending spending battles Congress must confront between now and early next year and the recent proposal by South Carolina's two GOP senators to pass a short-term spending measure that would avert a government shutdown this fall, Paul said "he's just not too excited about any of the discussions."
The senator said his lack of interest stemmed from the fact that the current long- and short-term discussions about spending are not focused on balancing the budget soon enough to suit him.
"Codifying the current spending levels – anything close, up or down – is nowhere close to what we need to do to balance the budget," Paul said, adding that he thinks the budget plan developed by Rep. Paul, R-Wisconsin, and backed by my congressional Republicans does not balance the budget soon enough.
Speaking about the automatic cuts to defense spending that will take effect early next year unless Congress reaches an agreement otherwise, Paul said he thinks some cuts to defense spending can be found and added that he doesn't believe the Pentagon will become more efficient in its use of taxpayer dollars unless its top-line budgetary amount is reduced.
Paul made his comments in a small gathering with bloggers and reporters Thursday where the Kentucky senator also discussed limiting foreign aid to Pakistan and his opposition to domestic use of drones by the federal government unless the traditional protections of the Fourth Amendment are applied.