After campaigning vigorously for his GOP colleagues in the 2014 midterms, Senator Rand Paul (Ky.) appears to be swiftly turning his attention to looming 2016 election battles of his own.
A widely cited Politico piece published Monday details the groundwork being laid for a Paul presidential bid, announcing that the freshman senator will meet Wednesday with top GOP leaders and longtime allies to discuss 2016 prospects.
From the report:
Paul reiterated his long-standing assertion that he won’t officially decide about a presidential run until the spring, but his advisers have already laid out a timetable: They expect the campaign will be a “go” by mid-April, with an announcement as quickly after that as his staff can put together a fly-around to the early states.
Before zeroing in on Louisville as Paul’s likely campaign headquarters, advisers reached out to veterans of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign to consult on the advisability and specific requirements of running a national campaign from outside Washington, deciding the symbolic importance of basing the campaign in his home state outweighed any concerns about easy access for Washington-based staffers and political operatives from across the country.
Politico also notes that, in addition to his presidential ambition, Paul plans to simultaneously run for re-election to the Senate in 2016, a challenge complicated by a Kentucky law that prevents candidates in the state for running for multiple offices at once.
Though, Politico reports, “Paul advisers believe they have found multiple ways around the restriction without changing the law or challenging it in court, including exploring changing the state’s GOP primary to a caucus.”
With that in mind, American voters can expect to see a lot of Paul over the next year as he attempts to broaden the reach of a Republican Party increasingly accused of ignoring minority voters while also working to convince his GOP peers that he has a clear foreign policy vision.
Speaking at the Liberty Political Action Conference hosted by his father in Alexandria, Virginia, in September, Paul tackled the first of those challenges, criticizing his GOP peers for poor outreach.
“So many times, Republicans are seen as this party of, ‘We don’t want black people to vote because they’re voting Democrat; we don’t want Hispanic people to vote because they’re voting Democrat,’” he said the time. “We wonder why the Republican Party is so small. Why don’t we be the party that’s for people voting, for voting rights?”
He added, “The bottom line is we’re not winning — at least the big office, the presidency. We’re often not winning the statewide races, and we’re not winning because we don’t have enough people.”
Often at risk of being mocked by pundits on the left who accuse him of disingenuous pandering, Paul has backed up his call to make the GOP more appealing to minority voters by making speeches at venues in areas with large minority populations and strong Democratic support.
Over the past couple of years, Paul has spoken to an audience of African-American business leaders at a gathering of the Detroit Economic Club and visited the National Urban League in Cincinnati. In April 2013, Paul was ruthlessly mocked by the left for a speech he gave at Washington, D.C.’s historically black Howard University, where he misspoke about the GOP’s civil rights record.
But with Politico noting Monday that Paul intends to increase “the Republican share of the African-American vote from 6 percent in 2012 to 33 percent in 2016,” the left’s mocking isn’t likely to stop his outreach efforts.
On the foreign policy front ahead of 2016, Paul has already unleashed what will likely be an unrelenting cannonade of criticism of the U.S. actions overseas under the Obama administration. Though that is another area where Paul is going to have to carefully manage his message.
In an op-ed published by The Daily Beast Monday, Paul managed to skewer President Obama’s handling of the Islamic State situation in Iraq while calling for a strong but Constitutional plan to neutralize the terror threat.
And much like his messaging on minority voters, the senator didn’t hold back any criticism for conservatives who appear to pick and choose when they’d like the president to follow the law of the land.
From the piece:
Conservatives have rightly decried President Obama’s unconstitutional executive action on Obamacare — and his promises to do the same with immigration. With both branches of Congress now under Republican control, we should act to halt those power grabs, too.
But conservatives can’t simply be angry at the president’s lawlessness when they disagree with his policies. They should end their conspicuous silence about the president’s usurpation of Congress’ sole authority to declare war — even if (especially if) they support going after ISIS, as I do.
This is important. We can’t be for the rule of law at our own convenience. It matters how we act both when we agree and when we disagree with the president.
Paul contends that he takes exception not with the view that the U.S. must use its military force around the world from time to time (as has been the accusation from some more hawkish Americans), but with the idea that the president has unlimited power to determine when, where, why and how much.
And even as Paul will have to battle with his party’s past and present policy positions as much as Democrats leading up to 2016, he already has at least one high-profile GOP endorsement creating buzz.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that his fellow Kentuckian would have his support in a White House bid.
“I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that. But he’ll be able to count on me,” McConnell told the Lexington Herald-Leader Thursday. “Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul. We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him.”