Rand Paul is openly considering running for president in 2016. He thought about it in 2012 as well, but he didn’t want to run against his father, Ron Paul. Rand Paul is the latest of several young Republicans who have been getting attention as potential contenders for the 2016 nomination. He, like fellow Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Bobby Jindal, have said that the party needs a makeover, in light of its losses in this year’s election. Here’s Rand Paul in an interview with Politico:
I am different than some in that I’m not going to deny that I’m interested. I’m not going to deny that I think we have to go a different direction because we’re not winning.
Yes, unlike Jindal and Rubio, Paul is willing to be open (as opposed to just obvious) about his interest in running for president. Unlike another potential candidate, Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, he is willing to say that the party ought to try new things. Rand Paul wants to engage Latinos and young people, two groups that Republicans need to make inroads with if they want to stop getting crushed in elections. His solution: immigration and marijuana.
States should be allowed to make a lot of these decisions. I want things to be decided more at a local basis, with more compassion. I think it would make us as Republicans different.
I think for example we should tell young people, ‘I’m not in favor of you smoking pot, but if you get caught smoking pot, I don’t want to put you in jail for 20 years.
Rand Paul is right (as in correct) that Colorado and Washington’s referenda to legalize marijuana provides Republicans with an opening. It is not an opening one would expect more mainstream conservatives like Paul Ryan to take, but the more libertarian wing of the party could be galvanized by it. The Obama Administration has not tipped its hand on how it will play the conflict between these laws and federal law, but it is unlikely to give the new laws its full support. Republicans could make a surprise play and come out in support of, if not the laws themselves, the right of states to decide their own drug laws. This could provide an opportunity for Republicans to separate themselves on what is generally a liberal issue.
As for immigration, Paul, like many Republicans who saw their party lose the Latino vote by 50 points in the last election, is willing to loosen up on immigration policy. While he supports a strong border fence, he also is willing to talk about an “eventual path” to citizenship for many immigrants.
Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio are forming the base of a class of relatively young Republicans who are looking to shape their party in a time of flux. While all four have their eyes on 2016, the decisions they make now are shaping the new incarnation of the Republican Party.