(The Hill) – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he’s interested in mounting a 2016 presidential bid.
“I’m not going to deny that I’m interested,” Paul told ABC News in an interview published on Tuesday.
A bid for the Republican nomination would continue a family tradition. Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), has repeatedly sought the party’s nomination. The elder Paul is retiring at the end of this congressional term.
The younger Paul emphasized that he was not yet ready to announce his candidacy, but said he believed his brand of libertarianism could open up the map for Republicans.
“I think we have to go a different direction, because we’re just not winning, and we have to think about some different ideas,” said the Kentucky lawmaker, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement.
Among his proposals: undertaking immigration reform, making defense cuts and allowing individual states to legalize marijuana.
“States should be allowed to make a lot of these decisions,” Paul says. “I want things to be decided more at a local basis, with more compassion. I think it would make us as Republicans different.”
If Paul did decide to mount a bid for the Republican nomination, he could likely lean on his father’s impressive fundraising apparatus. Speculation had grown about the senator’s political ambitions after he endorsed Mitt Romney ahead of the Republican convention and was rewarded with a high-profile speaking slot in Tampa, Fla.
“You know, my first choice had always been my father,” Paul told Fox News at the time. “I campaigned for him when I was 11 years old. He’s still my first pick. But you know, now that the nominating process is over, I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be supporting Gov. Romney.”
In the ABC interview, Paul also argued that President Obama had not won a mandate to raise taxes with his reelection. Instead, the Kentucky senator said, lawmakers should strive to find compromises on potential spending cuts.
“How about another compromise?” Paul said. “Republicans who think military spending, myself, who think national defense is important, should compromise and say, ‘You know what, not every dollar spent on the military’s sacred, we can reduce the military spending’ — that’s a compromise. Democrats should compromise also — entitlements and welfare, the spending can come.”