March 8th, 2013
03:46 PM ET
9 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. Sal

    The guy is a jerk plain and simple!

    March 9, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. 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. If he wants my support in 2016, he's going to need to back off from that.

    March 9, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. Norm

    And just like his father he will be ignored by the Republican party and anyone donating to his campaign may as well be flushing their money down the commode.

    March 9, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Puddin

    Rand Paul's 13-hour rant was a big waste of taxpayer money. He was just stirring up some attention for himself by being a thorn in the side and is so arrogant he reeks

    March 9, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. MJW

    He can run but he cannot hide. Another loser. Anybody who would vote for Rand Paul for President is crazy like a fox.

    March 9, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. alberto

    If the Republicans are ever to get serious about winning the White House and the rest of the country wants a truly competent person in the that job. Then the only answer is Mayor Micheal Bloomberg. He may not want the job and/or the country may want to go with the latest popular flavor but Bloomberg's abilities make the rest seem like circus clowns.

    March 9, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Dan in FL

    Rand Paul's filibuster was just a stunt, not leadership. The potential of the US government using drones against its own citizens on US soil is as likely as it using fighter jets against its own citizens on US soil. Rand Paul knows this, but because drones are in the news, he's using them to whip people into a frenzy of fear. The US needs leadership, not fear mongering.

    March 9, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. brian in denver

    The GOP's rolling out the nut-jobs already! One of Mitt's son's has is eye on a senate seat too. Maybe we'll be hearing about Bristol Palin running for office soon. The next generation of wackos has some big shoes to fill....

    March 9, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. southexas

    We have enough nuts in the USA now and don't need anymore. Like Father like Son he'll never be elected by Americans since there's more diversity now than before..

    March 9, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Thomas

    This is where Rand Paul should be speaking and focusing his time ,"psychiatric hospital in Lexington, KY"

    March 9, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. RonC

    He's about as messed up as a soup sandwich. Him and Ryan are the epitome of the expression "ding bats".

    March 9, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. William

    Delusion of Grandeur! Needs to see a doctor"

    March 9, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. SugarKube

    Rand did make excellent points in his fillibuster and brought Obama and Holder to their knees.

    March 9, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. Jsilva

    Rand Paul got some advice for you. Don't. The new demographics of America suggest you cannot be elected. Plus, you are not that smart.

    March 9, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Patt

    Yes! Yes! He would have my support/vote

    March 9, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. PikeRover

    I listened to a bit of Paul's filibuster. What I took away from it was that he was pandering to the Alex Jones crowd.

    March 9, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Minnie Mouse

    Your putting in great effort to get a head start. Just learn to have some patience to get answers on things. You should already know that the government does not get in any hurry for anything or anyone, even if you were to win. If you do get elected, I feel there would be more communication flowing at all times. That alone is a good sign in your favor.

    March 9, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. Rob

    Rand Paul would make a great GOP leader. I'm tired of the warmongering bone heads.

    March 9, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. RandPaul2013

    Will vote for Rand Paul....Hands down there will be no better candidate

    March 9, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. MBSeattle

    A father andson ticket. He must feel the job of a senator is not the means of getting peoples attention.

    March 9, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. Be Sane

    Run Rand, run!
    We're going to have a Democrat in the White House for a long time!
    Hillary 2016

    March 9, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. sifto

    uh-oh–liberals foaming at the mouth....Paul must seem like a threat–otherwise why would they care?

    March 9, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. Hap

    He's got no chance. Give him credit for asking about bombing Americans in America, but the way he did it was grandstanding. He's too much of a libertarian to ever appeal to most Americans, but more power to him he'll gum up the works that's for sure and the repubs don't have any "stars" anyway.

    March 9, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  24. Sheila

    Please run Rand Paul. I'm begging you! I'm eager to see Hillary as our President!

    March 9, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  25. Pete

    Rand just making noise and guess what it got him condemnation from his senior collegues that aren't much better ..Total theactrics from the republican ignorence just for a simple answer as "No"!!!And Huckabee a wanne be preacher who's a failure as well politically is much like Gingrich ,Palin and others who are out of politics currently but do things just to get media attention,just like kids causing troubles peeing in the sandbox to see what kind of response they get from their teacher that's all!!Republicans are totally pathedic and ignorent as well!!

    March 9, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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