WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at preparations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: Says he will decide after the 2014 elections whether to run. “We’re definitely talking about it, my family is talking about it. I truly won’t make my mind up until after the 2014 elections. But I haven’t been shy in saying we’re thinking about it.” — Fox News, March 9.
Write a book: Yes. But may need something less flame-throwing than 2012’s “Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds,” and something less dated and more broadly pitched than 2011’s “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.”
Iowa visits: Yes, three times in 2013. In March snagged the state GOP chairman, who announced he was quitting to join Paul as an adviser.
New Hampshire: Yes, April events included Freedom Summit speech. Won straw poll at March meeting of Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua. Several visits last year.
South Carolina: Yes, foreign policy speech at The Citadel military college and small GOP fundraiser in Charleston in November 2013 visit; headlined several fundraisers earlier last year.
Foreign travel: Yes. Visited Israel, Jordan in 2013, met Palestinian Authority as well as Israeli leaders, said in speech in Israel that U.S. should trim aid to Israel gradually. Member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Meet the money: Yes, headlined luncheon in April at Boston-area equity firm led by Mitt Romney’s former national finance chairman and Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, an event that drew together the 2012 presidential candidate’s inner circle. Also attended Romney’s 2013 Utah retreat with big GOP donors, golfed with some there. Met potential donors in New York City and California. Raised money for Nevada GOP at Las Vegas event in July. Has met donors and supporters in Texas, which his father represented in Congress.
Networking: Yes, and now roaming freely beyond tea party tent. Had private audience in April with Romney advisers from 2012 campaign, is helping Republicans across political spectrum, including moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and has pitched in with party leaders to heal divisions from last campaign. In late April brought message of unity to state GOP convention in Maine, where a struggle over delegates created raw tensions between GOP establishment and libertarian or tea party supporters of his father in 2012 campaign. Had spring speeches at Harvard and University of California. Generated buzz and won symbolic straw poll at Conservative Political Action Conference in March.
Hog the TV: Yes, a fixture on the Sunday news shows, including recent one from New Hampshire. Also frequent guest on news networks, especially Fox.
Do something: One-man, nearly 13-hour Senate filibuster to protest drone policy made country take notice, and impressed civil-liberties advocates outside his tea party constituency.
Take a stand: Tea party plus, with a libertarian streak that places him to the left of rivals on some issues, to the right on others. Fiscal conservative, criticizes surveillance state, praised Supreme Court gay marriage ruling as one that avoids “culture war,” aggressive in seeking repeal of the health law. In February, filed lawsuit against Obama and others in the administration over the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. Joining in 2014 with liberal lawmakers and others in effort to roll back some mandatory minimum sentences. Outreach to Democratic-leaning minorities. Told The New York Times in May that fellow Republicans should stop pushing state voter ID laws because the effort is alienating blacks.
Baggage: Dear old dad: Must move beyond fringe reputation that kept father’s presidential runs from going far. Deflection: Full-speed ahead. Aggressively pressing libertarian principles, especially on anti-terrorism. Past positions: Expressed misgivings about how Civil Rights Act bans racial discrimination by private businesses. Deflection: Reaching out directly to black voters and insisting the party needs to broaden appeal to minorities. He needs to broaden his appeal, too, beyond his tea party roots. The Washington Times canceled his column after he was found to have used passages from other people in his speeches and writings as if they were his own. Deflection: Promising proper citations and footnotes for his pronouncements “if it will make people leave me the hell alone.”
Shadow campaign: Has formidable leadership PAC called Rand PAC, has maintained ties to father’s political network in early primary states, and benefits from strong tea party support. Is starting to build teams on the ground in most states.
Social media: Aggressive. Bragged last year that he’d attracted more than 1 million likes for his Facebook page, where he lists his own books as his favorites. Countered Christie’s couched criticism of his opposition to warrantless wiretapping with a tweet declaring that Christie “worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom.”
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