Rand Paul, Still Mum, Lays 2016 Groundwork

Image: Rand Paul, Still Mum, Lays 2016 Groundwork (Larry Downing/Reuters/Landov)

Monday, 04 Aug 2014 08:46 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul will on Monday begin his 10th visit to Iowa as he lays the foundation for a 2016 presidential run, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Paul, one of about a dozen GOP contenders for the White House, has not officially declared.

"I would just say it's probably not a conclusion yet, but it is something that's an ongoing discussion," Paul said in June about whether he would run, according to the Journal.

He has hired operatives to help him solidify his base, collect political intelligence and raise money in Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan. Paul hired former Iowa Republican Party chairman Steve Grubbs to handle his PAC in that state. "We're trying to have a basic infrastructure in place before the general election, so if he formally announces after November we're ready to go," Grubbs told the Journal.

A super PAC established in 2012 has made it possible for big donors to get on board. Paul has already spent $5.1 million on the campaign out of $7.8 million raised, according to the Journal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's senior senator, termed Paul "the most credible candidate for president of the United States since Henry Clay," the Kentucky lawmaker who made a series of runs for president in the first half of the 1800s.

Only Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 vice presidential nominee, has spent more at $7.1 million or raised more with $9.2 million than Paul. And only Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has made more trips to Iowa. Cruz spent $3.1 million so far on the 2016 campaign out of $4.8 million raised, the Journal reported.

Paul is staking out alternative policy positions. He favors a foreign policy which is less interventionist, while at home he wants more Republican outreach to minorities and young people. His supports returning the right to vote to convicted felons and granting some nonviolent drug offenders a clean slate. He is seen as a bridge between tea party and establishment Republicans, the Journal reported.

Hogan Gidley who consulted for Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum said, "there's no guarantee" Paul will retain the support of voters he's reaching "if he ever had them in the first place. The election is a long way off."

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