March 8th, 2013
03:46 PM ET
1 year ago

Source: Paul has sights set on 2016

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is so serious about running for president, he is actively taking all the steps "that someone in his position should be making," a GOP source familiar with Paul's activities told CNN.

His activities and travel plans indicate he wants to be a serious candidate with a real path to victory, the source said. He would be running to win-not to make a statement, an approach that his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, embraced in the most recent presidential election.

The first-term senator, who dominated national headlines this week with his nearly-13 hour filibuster, is staying in touch with grassroots activists who supported him and his father. Both Pauls are known for their libertarian leanings-though the younger Paul has notably struggled to woo some of his father's most ardent supporters.

According to the GOP source, Paul has a robust email list with more than two million addresses. He's been trying to build new relationships among grassroots supporters, by signing letters and sending emails for groups.

He's also been active in establishing relationships and building an informal finance committee. His team has been working to find donors with big pockets to supplement the small donor component of his and his father's political operation.

He plans to travel to South Carolina, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary, in the not too distant future, the source said. Paul made "soft promises" to people in other early voting states, including New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada. The senator, however, doesn't think those trips are all that critical at this early stage, the source said.

In January, Paul also stoked speculation of a 2016 bid when he went to the Middle East and met with leaders in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian leadership.

But how does the son differentiate himself from his father, who ran for president three times, on the national political stage?

"At the end of the day, Ron saw himself as a truth teller but he hated politics. He didn't want to think about how to message things. He wanted to travel around and speak truth and let chips fall where they may," the source said. "Rand wants to be honest and truthful and principled, but he is very conscious of his messaging and language. He wants to make a winning political argument."

Rand Paul is also trying to stake out his own claim in terms of foreign policy. While Ron is very much a non-interventionist, Rand is trying to forge a "third way" – comparing himself to George W. Bush circa 1999. He doesn't want to nation-build and he wants to be less bellicose and less aggressive than other Republicans, but still be aggressive and engaged in the world.

With the help of Senate Minority Leader and fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul was put on the foreign relations committee (over the objections of some more traditional Republicans). That position gives him more credible experience on foreign policy–a topic many struggle with on the campaign trail.


Filed under: 2016 • Kentucky • Rand Paul
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. MaryM

    Ha, I give him credit for being able to hold it that long

    March 8, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  2. Patrick in Wisconsin

    I thought the Republicans would be a little wiser with their picks after their disaster in 2012. I guess I was wrong.

    March 9, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    As a libertarian, Sen Paul is out of touch with main stream America. His appeal is limited to lunatic fringe groups like fellow Libertarians, Tea Partiers, and anti-goverment extremists..

    March 9, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  4. Evergreen

    So, the 13 hour filibuster was just to jumpstart his 2016 campaign.

    March 9, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  5. Oneido Luis

    Rand can be hit/miss really. He can be a hit due to the "Paul" name, now whether or not you agree with his politics it always seems like he is being honest and that resonates well with many Americans especially conservatives and right leaning independents. He can be a miss because he's a member of the Tea party and center/center-left independents (not to mention liberals) will be turned off by his views. But it depends on where the country is three years from now, how the economy is really and maybe a fiscal conservative message might be able to get him elected.

    March 9, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  6. Bailee

    Hillary Clinton vs. Rand Paul . . . . . and the winner is . . . . . . . .????? Need I say more???

    March 9, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  7. North Dallas Don

    If Rand Paul ends up being the Republican candidate in 2016, I suspect that whomever is selected by the Democrats will occupy the White House for four years. Rand Paul is beholden to the Tea Party first, and America maybe second or further on down the list.

    March 9, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  8. Palin Power

    Rand Paul has no way of winning in 2016! Sarah Palin will PWN Rand easily and will win the White House and the Presidency!

    Sarah Palin 2017-2025

    March 9, 2013 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  9. Mark42R

    Yeah, hopefully he'll run on a platform of overturning civil rights legislation and legalizing racial discrimination.Because hey, it's all about liberty!

    March 9, 2013 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  10. Paul

    Wow, quite a bit of hate being spewed forth already, huh? At least give the guy a chance to put forth some statements before you dismiss him as another Mitt Romney. I'm not a Republican, but I agree with quite a bit of what he's said so far, both concerning the over-extension of government power and the way we are attempting to solve our financial crisis.

    That said, isn't this a bit early to be making campaign articles? At least wait until primary season is within view before this starts. We just got done with last presidential election.

    March 9, 2013 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  11. Frank

    It will be interesting if Paul and Christie both run...probably will shatter the GOP.

    March 9, 2013 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  12. W.

    Globally, eye doctors make very good leaders... (not).

    March 9, 2013 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  13. John

    This will be another lost for the Republican,because Rand Paul will never win.

    March 9, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  14. JimfromBham

    If Rand Paul was pleased by Holder's "non-answer answer", then Paul is not qualified to be in the Senate – much less President.

    March 9, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  15. Jimothy Jones

    Let's see here........we currently have a budget deficit.....and Rand Paul proposes to cut from domestic spending and military spending; he thinks social issues should be left to the states; he wants to make sure the CIA is not killing innocent americans here and abroad and that they be given trial; he is opposed to drone strikes overseas where we have killed many innocent bystanders.......basically it boils down to this.......there's the neoconservative/foreign-policy-hawk politicians in this country like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, etc.....and you have the types like Rand Paul. It's pretty easy to figure out where I'll be siding in four years. Good thing Obama can't run again....though I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to find a way to change the rules

    March 9, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  16. Steve Fielder

    Senator Rand Paul: a GOP presidential candidate who has the potential to make Michelle Bachmann look rational by comparison.

    Republicans, I beg of you, please oh PLEASE be foolish enough to nominate this guy in 2016. That way, Hillary Clinton can win by the biggest Electoral Vote landslide since Nixon in 1972....

    March 9, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  17. Michael

    He could only get elected in backward kentucky using daddy's name for regonition. wannabe.

    March 9, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  18. steve-0

    Paranoid, delusional idiot-He will fit right in with the voters on primary day

    March 9, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  19. lyn

    GREAT, another loser for GOP'S.

    March 9, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  20. Jack in Florida

    Should be very entertaining......what a sense of self this itiot has........needs to check his mirrors for defects.

    March 9, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  21. mr sensitive

    ...as long as he doesn't open his mouth, he might have a chance...

    March 9, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  22. wally

    Bring him on. Another eight years for Dems

    March 9, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  23. Elliott Carlin

    I should add to the libs, the RINO's as well.....lest I be accused of carrying the GOP waterbucket.

    March 9, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. A real republican

    How come my party doesn't have any moderate, sensible leaders?
    Haven't we learned by now that while the base may like these self servering extremist, the vast number of Americans have rejected them.

    March 9, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. demrules

    He's as nutty as his father, with a racist and divisive character flaw! He can't control his alcoholic DUI offensive son, so how can he take control of our country.

    March 9, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
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