Republican Sen. Rand Paul takes the first step toward running for president when he asks state party leaders to endorse his idea to create a 2016 presidential caucus in Kentucky.
The move would clear the way for Paul to run for president and for re-election to his Senate seat without breaking a state law that bans candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election.
A vote Saturday by the Republican Party of Kentucky's executive committee would endorse the concept of a caucus and instruct a committee to come up with a plan on how to implement one. More importantly for Paul, it would be an early endorsement of his unusual plan for dual campaigns ahead of a wide open Republican presidential primary.
"Everyone is very open-minded and would like to be as supportive as possible of the senator's efforts to move forward with campaigning for the office of president - if that's what he chooses to do," said committee member Sara Beth Gregory, a former state senator.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the other potential Republican presidential candidate up for re-election in 2016, has said he would not run for both offices.
The caucus is a Plan B for Paul, whose earlier attempts to change state law were thwarted by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. And it does not solve his general election problem. If Paul were to win the Republican nomination for president, he would likely need a court order to appear on the ballot twice in November.
Paul cleared perhaps his largest hurdle last month when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly endorsed the plan. A McConnell spokesman said McConnell was skeptical at first but agreed to it after Paul promised it would be a one-time event that he would raise money to pay for.
"He's got nearly $4 million in his Senate campaign account. He could cover the cost of the caucus just in what he has on hand now," Paul spokesman Dan Bayens said.
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