May 10, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Sen. Rand Paul says he’s only “considering” running for president. But he’s actually doing much more than mulling it over.
The Kentucky Republican is unabashedly clearing a path to seek the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, with a series of early voting state visits, a beefed-up political operation and a deliberate plan to appeal to mainstream voters and raise his national profile.
Paul’s road is far from easy, given the galaxy of Republican stars considering running for the party’s presidential nod — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and more. But Paul enjoys tea party backing and a network of supporters from father Ron Paul’s back-to-back White House bids.
Among the challenges facing the 50-year-old freshman senator: He must convince Republican mainstream voters that he is more than a tea party champion or simply heir to his libertarian dad’s ideals. And he has begun making the case that he could bridge the divide between Republican voters and those who overwhelmingly choose Democrats. At historically black Howard University last month, Paul said the GOP needs to appeal to black voters and other minorities. And he’s adopted a more welcoming tone toward Hispanics by pledging to “find a place” for working immigrants.