Washington (CNN) - Rand Paul has long been very open about his ambitions for higher office, telling CNN as early as November 2012, just weeks after the last presidential election, of his interest in running for the White House.
And the Republican senator from Kentucky is on top of the pack in CNN's most recent poll in the hypothetical race for the 2016 GOP nomination.
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Now, Paul's become the first of the potential Republican White House contenders to put together a political organization in all 50 states. It's the latest sign that the senator is working to assemble a much wider network than his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, did when the longtime congressman from Texas made bids for the GOP nomination in 2008 and 2012 with extremely strong but narrow backing from libertarian-leaning voters.
A senior adviser to Paul confirms to CNN that the senator's 50-state network, first reported earlier Thursday by the Washington Post's Robert Costa, includes more than 200 people, including many who in the past have backed more tradition Republicans. The network is set up through Rand Paul Victory, the umbrella organization that includes Rand PAC, which is the senator's political action committee, and Rand Paul 2016, his Senate re-election campaign.
"It's a mix of folks that will help with finance efforts and with grassroots activist outreach. The people are a blend of traditional Republicans, conservative activists, and libertarians," Doug Stafford, Paul's chief political adviser, told CNN.
Another Paul aide said that the evolving organization means that there are "people ready and waiting to help" when Paul travels across the country.
The first-term senator has been making the rounds in the crucial early voting states in the presidential primary and caucus calendar, such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada, and has addressed grassroots conservative audiences across the country.
Paul's efforts in building a network in Iowa, which kicks off the caucus and primary season, are well underway.
"A lot of Iowans are excited about the prospect of Senator Paul running for President. They've seen his ability to unite a broad spectrum of conservatives and attract young people and independents," David Fischer, co-chairman of Ron Paul's 2012 efforts in Iowa and a former co-chairman of the state's Republican party, told CNN.
But Paul has also traveled to spots that GOP lawmakers rarely venture. The most recent example: earlier this month Paul gave a speech at the historically liberal-leaning University of California at Berkeley, where he talked about the National Security Agency's surveillance program and the Republican Party's need for change.
Paul: GOP like bad pizza crust
The trip was part of Paul's effort to appeal to younger voters and minorities, groups that traditionally favor Democrats.
Earlier this month, Paul won the much-watched GOP presidential nomination straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference. It was the second straight victory for Paul at CPAC, where his speech was well received.
A week after this year's CPAC, Paul came out on top at a straw poll at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in New Hampshire.
As Paul works to broaden his base of support, he's done something his father never did - top the list of potential Republican presidential candidates in a national poll.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted earlier this month, 16% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP said they would be likely to support Paul for the 2016 nomination. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, was one point back, at 15%.
Longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's considering another bid for the White House, was at 11% in the poll, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who's also mulling another campaign, was at 10%.
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Rand Paul used the race card to win Kentucky which automatically makes him ineligible to be President of the other 49 States. Those Kentuckians aren't going to think to kindly of him if he stops using his race card because it won't work in all States.
This is the same guy who just voted as Putin's poodle, and he expects to win in a GOP primary? He expects the other GOP candidates to not shred him over national security and national interests? Obama is consistently proving he's far stronger on national defense and national interests. Given their actions, the GOP should be nominating Obama in the their primary over Rand Paul.
Dude spent 45 years vocally hating the very government he now insists is his "due" in life to lead. Yeah. Put him in the White House and see what happens to the United States of America's government and its people.
GOPers have ran some hypocrites over the years, but this man is the ultimate in hypocrisy.
He will never be President .He's too loony for the rest of us common sense voters
Dude is the craziest MF in politics. Who voted him in office? Nuts!
Christie has just been cleared of all charges.
Vote for integrity, vote Paul. Coming from the guy who changed election rules to fit his personal political agenda, what could go wrong?
Sorry Rand but the minute Jeb declares he has the nomination. Maybe you can be his VP.
His first official act should be to write his concession speech. He's going to need it.
Paul, I love your fiscal conservatism. It is much needed by the country after all the damage inflicted by a Democrat Congress since 2006 and Obama since 2008. But I entirely reject your libertarian views on social issues. You are further left than the Democrats on these. This lack of morality, common sense, and all the politically correct nonsense is undermining the very fabric of our nation. We need a consistent conservative for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Not a mixed bag like yourself.
Mainstream America is not going to elect a tea party favorite son to the presidency. 30% share at best. BUT it is definitely OK to throw all that money into it. It will help the economy if you pump millions into the effort.
Tired of it
I always come to CNN hoping to find some moderate comments on the boards and once again all I find are fanatic liberals. Go to FOX News and all I get is fanatic concervatives.
Yeah, except faux newz doesn't have message boards, so I know you're not being quite honest. Additionally, you must not spend much time here or you would realize there are plenty of "fanatic conservatives" on these threads as well, and the liberal voices of reason far outweigh the "fanatic liberals".
Let's start finding out more about his wife's past.
Since he thinks it is ok to judge a candidate by what his/her spouse did in the past.
DId Mrs. Paul have an abortion?
Did she have records of criminal offense?
Does she suport science or creationism?
Dig up your most mis-informative one-liners Dems. You'll need them to make yourself feel like anyone would ever want to vote for Hillary.
Care to provide a few examples of those one-liners about aqua buddah that are "mis-informative" so us "libruls" can debunk your claims?
" Obama is consistently proving he's far stronger on national defense and national interests"
Oh man, thanks for the laugh.
One small step for Rand....one giant disaster for the human race.
OK – Republicans are still in big trouble trying to find a viable candidate. I'll give them a "head's up". Guys, you will have to change your stance on nearly every issue facing this country today:)
Let's take a look at the current leaders of the pack.
Rick Perry – "Oops."
Mike Huckabee – "Uncle Sugar."
Paul Ryan – "I haven't run the numbers, yet."
Rand Paul – "I would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act."
The field just keeps getting weaker and weaker. Christie just might be able to take it after all
Perhaps the new GOP motto should be: "from weakness, strength".
Sounds great! Let's elect a President with less knowledge of economics than an elementary-school kid, who's using "The Handmaid's Tale" as his ten-year roadmap. His use is hardly restricted to illustrate only Paul's views on women–just consider the book's happily-warring little pseudo-Christian military dictatorships.
Claudia, Houston, Tx......Race card? Sure, lets use the famously , overused, phantom "race card" You people are so predictable. Now if you are SERIOUS, lets move on to Al Sharpton and his race baiting techniques.
This guy speaks about a lot of common sense solutions, if you take off your left and right blinders for a bit and listen to him. I can't believe that I will say this......I may actually vote for Rand Paul....gasp!..
"I wonder how the "some other candidate" polled. That person led for most of the 2012 campaigns."
Apparently 2016 is going to be the year of "Who Can Out-Smart $arah Palin In Supidity" They're all starting to talk her talk.
Personally, I'm putting my money on Jeb "taking one for the team".
haha... sarah palin as his VP!
Rand 2016 ! I am Voting for him to bring this country back form the POS democrats !