Sen. Rand Paul is “seriously considering” a 2016 bid for the presidency as he basks in a glowing spotlight following the success of his 13-hour filibuster speech in the Senate.
“Our party needs something new, fresh, and different,” Paul, R-Ky., told Politico.
“What we’ve been running —nothing against the candidates necessarily — but we have a good, solid niche in all the solidly red states throughout the middle of the country.”
Paul, a self-described libertarian who ran for the Senate in 2010 with backing from the tea party, suggested in the interview with Politico that the GOP should do more to broaden its support base.
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“We have to figure out how to appeal to the West Coast, New England, [and] around the Great Lakes area,” he said, adding Republicans need to figure out how to appeal to blue-collar workers and other Democrats who “voted for Reagan and I think are drifting back because they see us as the party of the wealthy.”
The lengthy filibuster on Wednesday was Paul’s way of trying to hold up President Barack Obama’s nomination of CIA director John Brennan because he feared the administration was ready to use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil, which he said was unconstitutional.
On Thursday, a day after his marathon, Attorney General Eric Holder insisted that was not the case in a letter to Paul and the vote went ahead with Brennan being confirmed.
Paul’s efforts were supported by members of both parties, with Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, also a potential 2016 contender, and Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden joining him on the floor of the Senate.
In the Politico interview, Paul also attempted to distinguish himself from his staunchly libertarian father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for the GOP nomination last year.
The younger Paul said he thinks there is a middle ground between “pure libertarianism” and more traditional conservatism,” and there is a role for someone with that position who “can somehow bring about an expansion of the party.”
Paul’s success was giving him a groundswell of support.
GOP strategist Ron Bonjean said that Wednesday’s filibuster was exactly the type of publicity necessary for Paul to propel himself into a 2016 presidential run.
“The consensus among his colleagues showed this week that with the right issue – the lack of transparency from the White House – he brought people together,” Bonjean said.
He said that he needs to demonstrate that he’s not just the next Ron Paul, his father and 2012 tea party favorite presidential candidate.
“I do think that he needs to continue to grow his presence and increase his brand,” Bonjean said. “He needs to take moments like these that he’s standing on his own two feet, that he’s standing on the ideals and principles that Americans can relate to.”
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer called the filibuster “a stroke of political genius” on Fox News.
“This raises his image,” said the conservative icon.
“This will be a moment that people say launched him as a national figure.”
David Bossie, president of the Citizens United conservative group, told The Hill newspaper that Paul’s long speech is the type of event “that makes you a player, so that in three years you’ve laid the groundwork” for a run at the White House.
Al Cardenas, the American Conservative Union chairman, said Paul showed he’s a great GOP recruit for the 2016 race.
“There will be a number of great prospects for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. We are excited about our young conservative stars, and Sen. Rand Paul is certainly one of them,” Cardenas said. “We will be watching closely as this race unfolds — who is in and who is out. It will be great if he is one of those who tosses his hat in the ring.”
Conservative talk show host Steve Deace, who is considering a run for the Senate in his home state of Iowa, told Politico, “I don’t think you can underestimate how big of a moment this was.
“Imagine taking what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin and combining it with what Mike Huckabee did with Chick-fil-A — that’s how big this is.”
Not everyone was singing Paul’s praises after his performance on Wednesday, however. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accused Paul of diverting attention from a serious foreign policy discussion to the “realm of the ridiculous,” noted Politico.
Newsmax Washington Correspondent David Yonkman contributed to this report.
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