March 8th, 2013
03:46 PM ET
10 years 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.

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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. MIke

    It is inevitable that Rand Paul will go down the same path as his dad. He can run for higher office...he'll amass millions in campaign contributions and he will be guaranteed a consultant's position in one of many conservative think tanks, but he will never, never, never be president. The GOP fielded the most moderate that they could find, Mitt, and look where he is now.

    March 9, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. sally

    Rand Paul comes from a paranoid perspective. He is a government hater who would gladly let old people and children starve rather than have the safety net of Social Security and Medicare. All he cares about is getting government out of the way so that he and his corporate cronies can do as they please without any governmental interference.

    March 9, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. little tin god

    Rand Paul is no threat. He is proof positive that the nut doesn't fall far from the tree.

    March 9, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Jeb

    Paul said that the federal government has not right telling businesses that they can't set up a sign saying "no blacks", "no jews" or "no gays" in their establishment.

    He says that the civil rights act was a bad thing.

    Good luck running this lunatic.

    March 9, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. MIke

    A GOP fan posted this: "uh-oh–liberals foaming at the mouth....Paul must seem like a threat–otherwise why would they care?"

    OK democrats/progressive/liberals all of us in chorus: We would love for Rand Paul to run for president!!!

    There you go...we said it because we are so sure and confident he will lose...

    March 9, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Getoverit

    The guy is a jerk plain and simple!
    Really? How many times have you met him?

    March 9, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    @HenryMiller: "The only thing I ever get from Rand Paul are emails that assert that his religion is all the justification he needs to trample on the rights of of pregnant women and gays."

    Too funny! The same religion that claims Jesus said, "'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least among you, you did it to me.'" (Matthew 25.35-40)?

    March 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Loathstheright

    Setting his fake doctor delusional mind for something that will never happen....Rand is a phoney just like his dad and the people who vote for cretins like this are fools. Republicans all ego no substance.

    March 9, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    The first question Paul asked was in regard to drone strikes against enemy combatants. During the course of his filibuster, he twisted it to ask about drone strikes against Americans and insinuated the White House was avoiding this question, implying that the White House would use drones against Americans.

    What Fox hasn't reported, thereby ensuring the paranoid masses are all in a tizzy about how President Obama is "out to get us," is Attorney General Eric Holder's response which was delivered to Paul during his filibuster (quoted in full):

    Dear Senator Paul,

    It has come to my attention that you now asked an additional question: "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" The answer to that question is no.

    Eric H. Holder, Jr.

    But, hey, paranoid Libertarian and GOP yahoos, don't let the TRUTH get in your way!

    March 9, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. blf83

    Rand Paul is just a windbag whose ideas offer nothing good for the country.

    March 9, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. XMalakhX

    Attempting to win over the grassroot (extreme wing) activist voters....Great, I see some things never change. And we sit here and wonder why the country has become so polarized and even the simplest of tasks difficult to accomplish.

    March 9, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. BrightStar

    Paul's father served decades in Congress and never achieved a thing. Unless the son changes his positions he'll never be president. Changing his positions will erase the nut base he has now. Rand Paul will never be president.

    March 9, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. TexasVoter

    If he were to become President, the USA would be a country like North Korea.

    March 9, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  14. DaveC

    2016 is going to be so much fun to watch for the Republican party. They just never, ever learn. Ribio, Paul, Jindal, etc. The list just goes on and on. One message (throw those darn illegals out) vs. another message (we need to be more inclusive). Then the party hacks go and reelect the guy Prebius who orchestrated the 2012 disaster. As I said, they never learn.

    March 9, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. John the Historian

    Ron Paul and his son are both just hair-splitting Republicans. In the unlikely chance of getting the presidency he would dump the libertarian facade and become another warmonger and christian Right nut case. You never hear much about abortion or Gay rights from either one of them, I wonder why. Republicans need to schism over the economic conservatives and the social conservatives. Republicans go the way of the Whig party. Obamacare is law, Gay marriage is coming and Roe versus Wade is settled American law even according to Roberts. Can't wait for Rick Santorum/Michele Bachmann or the Sarah Palin/ Newt Gingrich ticket in 2016.

    March 9, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. LiberaLIowan

    Isn't it a little early for the teatard losers to start emerging from the clown car already?

    March 9, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. andrew singer

    I thought he held back a little to be honest. Holders response didn't sit well with me, not that I would expect mr fast and furious himself to say anything profound.

    March 9, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. yogi

    Only those who love endless rambling about freedom and liberty will recognize this clown, he speaks their language of hate and intolerance. Imagine we have to endure more of the same GOP freak show for years, only to find out that there is no way that any of them will become president.

    March 9, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. June

    Lord help us. So now we know what that ridiculous manufactured stunt was about.

    Holder's letter specifically said that they would not use drones against Americans on US soil, and yet Paul in an obvious stunt did a filibuster making claims that such a thing would or could occur and he needed an answer even though he got a clear, "NO" from the administration. The letter has been posted for all to read.

    Even McCain called Rand's stunt essentially looney tunes meant to drum but hysteria from college kids in dorm rooms who do not yet have all the facts. This is what the Paul's do. They invent a scenario that can gain support, if it were "actually" true to hook in people who become genuinely outraged (which they should be if there was any actual truth in the matter -but there never is' like the fake fiat money claims or federal reserve hysteria). Then, once these people are "lured in" they feed them a bunch of propaganda and cherry picked data to support a free-market fundamentalist ideology – also not true or substantiated. It is like a cult. he went on CNN and stated spending numbers that were off by 6.5 trillion but he knows his followers won't look stuff up and if they do and find the inforamtion false (which it always is), the Paul's then claim it is a government "conspiracy."

    March 9, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. mcdennis

    He is one the Democrats greatest hopes for victory in 2016. If it's him or Marco the GOP doesn't stand a chance.

    March 9, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. sfs123

    Go ahead. Full support...

    March 9, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. John

    I hope he does run, as the majority of us see right through his hysterical grandstanding. He's a deeply flawed candidate who has no chance at winning the Presidency, but it will be fun to watch him get picked apart piece by piece. I can only hope that after his loss, he'll go away quietly...but I'm not betting on it.

    March 9, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. amarjeet

    It Is time for emerging republican future leader Paul Rand with Boehner Speaker of the House to have quick Deal for reversing Forced Budget cuts in exchange for a Deal to have bonus for Congress. President Obama must take initiative as it is good for Republic Congress, people of America and country as a whole.

    March 9, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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