Rand Paul Courts Libertarian Donors

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Friday, 25 Apr 2014 02:55 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has won the support of wealthy libertarians who would like to see him run for president in 2016.

New Jersey libertarian and Americans for Prosperity board member Frayda Levin told The New York Times that helping Paul make it to the White House is one of her "main goals."

"I tell people he's the Republican of the future," Levin said. "He's got both the intellectual heft and the emotional understanding."

The libertarian donors that Paul has courted are quite an eclectic group — a founder of a billion-dollar hedge fund in New York, a contributor to The Review of Austrian Economics, and a Cato Institute board member. And his fundraising operation includes a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

"We think that is an avenue that is not as well-tapped for pure political campaigns as it could be," Doug Stafford, political adviser to the Kentucky Republican, told the Times.

Such contributors could help build on the donor-base established by Paul's father Rep. Ron Paul of Texas when he ran for president in 2008 and 2012.

"I'm impressed with him," said David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute. "I wish he was better on the gay marriage issue, and I'm a little concerned with his position on immigration."

"But I think when you combine his positions on economic issues with his views on foreign interventionism, and the surveillance, you have a much better libertarian profile than I see in any other leading politician," he added.

Paul also is trying to pick up support from about 200 donors who aren't usually part of the traditional Republican money establishment. Many of these donors belong to Freedom Partners, a donor club led by Charles and David Koch — probably the two most influential libertarians in the country.

"His point is to try to show everyone how the party needs to adapt a bit, and some of the things that he wants to do personally to reach out to people who have not traditionally been Republican," Stafford said.

Paul has said that his goal is to broaden the Republican Party and find what issues lawmakers can unite around in spite of their differences, but he said in February that he does not believe Republicans will win again "unless they become a new GOP."

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