Carville: Rand Paul a 'first-tier' presidential candidate

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"If he announces, he'll be considered a first-tier candidate," Carville told Vogue.

Carville, a the longtime Democratic strategist and now a columnist for The Hill, also said if Paul manages to expand his appeal past his Tea Party base, he'll "tip his hat" to the candidate.

Another prominent Democratic strategist, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, also complimented Paul in the Vogue article. 

He said Rand Paul seems to have moved beyond the appeal of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Ky.). 

“He’s not your father’s Dr. Paul,” he told Vogue.

Paul received the Vogue treatment as his national profile continues to rise. 

He's been making stops in early primary states this year, and plans to help out Senate and House candidates in 2014. Aides privately admit he's laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign, though they say he hasn't yet made a final decision.

His mother Carol, told the magazine that a presidential campaign "feels real."

“Rand says he won’t declare that he’s going to run until after 2014. ... Groundwork has to be set," she said.

But at least one woman in Paul's life isn't yet sold on the possibility. His wife, Kelley, told Vogue that she's concerned about the effect the campaign could have on the family.

“Because in this day and age it’s mostly about character assassination,” she said. “When I think of the tens of millions of dollars in opposition research that they’d be aiming right at us and our family — that’s what it’s about.”