WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, popular with conservatives and libertarians in the GOP, said Wednesday he is considering a presidential campaign in 2016 but will not make a decision before next year.
Paul said at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that he wants to be part of the national debate and said that remaining open to a presidential bid would give him a broad audience on a number of policy issues.
"I want to be part of the national debate. Whether I run or not, being considered is something that allows me to have, I think, a larger microphone," Paul said. He added: "We're considering it. We won't make a decision before 2014."
Paul has already announced plans to travel to some of the early voting states this year. He will headline the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner on May 10 and deliver the keynote address at the New Hampshire Republican Party's first Liberty Dinner on May 20. Paul said he intended to travel to South Carolina this summer.
Paul has established himself as a favorite of the tea party movement and delivered a tea party response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address earlier this year. He won a symbolic presidential preference poll of conservative activists in March and spoke at Howard University earlier this month, arguing that Republicans need to appeal to black voters and other minorities.
Paul is the son of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a libertarian Republican who sought the presidency in 1988, 2008 and 2012.
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