Paul fuels presidential hype with trip to Iowa

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is heading to Iowa, another sign the Tea Party favorite is serious about running for president in 2016.

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Paul will keynote the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner on May 10 in Cedar Rapids, the state party announced Tuesday. The event is a regular stopping point for potential presidential aspirants who have an eye on Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The Kentucky senator has been on a hot streak the last few weeks, beginning with his nearly 13-hour filibuster of President Obama's nomination to head the CIA because of the administration's drone policy. He won the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll last weekend, a victory he called "invigorating." 

Paul also made a high-profile speech on immigration on Tuesday, putting him in line with many of the party's power-brokers and giving him partial claim to the reforms, should they succeed in Congress.

Paul used his high-profile speech at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to try to reframe the debate on immigration reform — and demonstrate comfort discussing a wide range of issues outside of civil and economic liberty.

"The solution doesn't have to be amnesty or deportation — a middle ground might be called probation where those who came illegally become legal through a probationary period," he said. “Our land should be one of assimilation, not hiding in the shadows."

Paul is not the only 2016 hopeful who has headed to the state in recent weeks. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently keynoted a birthday fundraising dinner for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), the runner-up to Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination, has already been back a few times.

Paul spent plenty of time in Iowa in 2012 as a surrogate for his father's presidential campaign, often speaking to reporters and potential supporters in his father's place, as well as filling in for him at some speeches. 

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) briefly led in polling in the state and finished in a strong 3rd place, with 21 percent of the vote.

A number of Ron Paul's 2012 supporters are in positions of power within the state party, including Iowa Republican Party Chairman A.J. Spiker and Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler.

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