U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says he may be tapping into his father's libertarian following, but he'll also keep building up his own appeal as his political career moves forward.
Many political observers already believe the Kentucky Republican will go further than Ron Paul if he decides to run for president, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer
The elder Paul has run for president three times since 1988, and his son is widely considered to be a potential candidate in 2016.
He says there are still many people who are frustrated with the high unemployment and sluggish economic growth under the current administration.
“A lot are supporters of my dad, and some are supporters of mine,” Paul said. “We’ve grown that group. We do it by communicating and taking stands. We’re unafraid to take stands and stand on principles to defend the Bill of Rights.”
Jeff Crosby, a Democratic consultant, says that while father and son have a lot in common, Rand Paul seems to have even more charisma.
The elder Paul, an obstetrician, Crosby said, “would be saying sometimes mean, tough things about people, but always just seemed like a nice guy. He was kind of a Mr. Rogers personality type.”
However, Crosby said, “I think his son has more personality and is more sophisticated in terms of modern politics. He has a little bit more in the soundbite game.”
Ron Paul got most of his votes for president in 1988, when he ran on the Libertarian Party ticket and got 432,179 votes. He was able to stay in contention for several months in the 2012 election, battling with Republican leadership to stay on the GOP ticket.
His son has said he won't decide whether to run for president until next year. However, he's made several moves that indicate he's trying for a more national role, including a widely publicized March filibuster on the Obama administration's drone policies.
Rand Paul also made moves to expand the Republican Party's appeal to minorities, including outlining his plans for immigration to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in March. He also spoke at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Simmons College in Kentucky about the Republican Party's role in civil rights.
He said he does not know if his speeches will lead to Republican votes, but “if people don’t think you are asking for their vote, they think you don’t care,” Paul said. “We (Republicans) haven’t been showing up at African-American events. We haven’t been showing up at Latino events.”
Some of Paul's more mainstream moves may alienate supporters, particularly ones inherited from his fathers' campaigns. To be truly successful, Paul must move away from some of his father's positions, says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
“There’s a downside to putting distance between himself and his father,” Sabato said. “Some hardcore Paul-ites already do not trust Rand and consider him squishy compared to their hero, Ron. So there’s a price to everything in politics.”
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