Presidential races

Paul to argue electability with 2016 launch

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will become the second major GOP presidential candidate to officially launch a White House bid on Tuesday. 

While Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) announcement last month sought to rally religious conservatives, Paul is poised to tout his electability and the ways he expands the reach of the Republican Party. 

Here’s a rundown of what to expect on Tuesday and in the days that follow as Paul hits the 2016 trail. 

The big announcement 

{mosads}The Kentucky senator will officially launch his White House bid at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky., at noon. 

The Paul campaign says it expects “well over a thousand” supporters will be on hand. The campaign is also expecting a huge media presence — press set-up begins at 4 a.m. and closes two hours before the event is scheduled to start.

His team has focused heavily on digital engagement, and the campaign will be looking to amplify the announcement through Twitter and Facebook, and as well as some new social media platforms that Paul has embraced, like Snapchat, Instagram and Meerkat.

Paul gave a sneak peak into what his message will be in a pre-announcement video that has been prominently featured on the influential conservative website Drudge Report for the last two days.

“On April 7, a different kind of Republican will take on Washington,” the video says at the open. 

Whereas Cruz’s launch was laser-focused on rallying evangelicals, Paul is gearing up to make the argument that he has cross-party appeal. 

He intends to focus heavily on young voters and minority outreach, and will make the pitch to Republican primary voters that his efforts to expand the party make him the candidate with the best chance to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Hitting the trail

Following the announcement, Paul will hit the road for rallies in the critical carve-out states.

The “Stand With Rand” tour will take Paul to New Hamshire on Wednesday, South Carolina on Thursday, Iowa on Friday and Las Vegas on Saturday.

These states will be especially important for Paul as he tries to chart a White House run separate from his father’s failed bids. 

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had a history of entering primaries and caucuses with considerable buzz among grassroots supporters, but he could never close the deal by delivering a victory in an early-voting state.

Republican strategists say the younger Paul has as much range of any of the potential GOP candidates and is well-positioned to win at least one early-voting state, or at least build momentum through a series of strong finishes.

In Iowa, Paul can build on his father’s established base of support and barnstorm the dozens of campuses in the state for student support. In New Hampshire, he could capitalize on the state’s open primary and strong independent streak. South Carolina is likely to be kind to a candidate from the South, and the caucuses in Nevada could be a wildcard.

Of course, if Paul falls flat in these states, it could reinforce the notion that, like his father, his appeal is limited. 

Building support 

Nearly the entirety of the Bluegrass State’s congressional delegation told The Hill on Monday that they support Paul for president and will be on hand for his announcement. 

GOP Reps. Thomas Massie, Andy Barr and Brett Guthrie said they will support Paul in his presidential run and will be there for him on Tuesday in Louisville.

An official for Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) responded to a question about whether he would back Paul in 2016 by saying he would be at the launch event. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has a policy of not getting involved in primaries, but a spokesman said he wishes Paul well and will support whoever the eventual GOP nominee is.

Last December, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would “almost certainly” back Paul should he seek the White House, although it’s yet to be seen how active the Senate majority leader will be on the campaign trail.

National Journal also reported on that Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) will support Paul and appear with him at rallies this week.

Paul’s most influential supporter is also his most controversial: his father. The retired Texas congressman and two-time presidential candidate will also be on hand for the announcement, although The New York Times reports that he won’t have a speaking role. 

Still, Paul will benefit greatly from the existing campaign infrastructure and base of support from his father’s failed White House bids.

“The Ron Paul coalition is not enough to win the nomination, but it’s also not nothing,” said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak. “If you presume he starts with all or most of that base of support, that’s a good starting point. But Rand is also more practical, more pragmatic, and more of a party loyalist than a movement Libertarian, so he should be able to expand on that coalition.”

Will a fundraising boost follow?

Paul will be looking to reel in at least a few million dollars from grassroots supporters on the back of his launch.

Cruz raised $4 million in the week after announcing his candidacy, and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson says he’s taken in $2 million in small-dollar donations in the month since he launched an exploratory committee.

To capitalize on the announcement, his team has a “money bomb” planned to coincide with the presidential announcement. The tactic was perfected by the elder Paul, who mobilized grassroots supporters by encouraging them to give en masse on a pre-set date.

Paul will also be looking to reel in major GOP donors as well. He’ll need to compete with the likes of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has focused almost exclusively on fundraising in the early stages. 

Late last week, Paul’s political adviser, Doug Stafford, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that Republican candidates will need to have raised $50 million by next March, expressing confidence that Paul can meet that benchmark.  

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