Here’s the Republican presidential contender who could be a complete nightmare for Democrats

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) outreach efforts to millennials and minorities as well as his focus on issues that aren’t typical of Republican politicians have not gone unnoticed by one of President Barack Obama’s closest political strategists.

White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer says that Paul, who is actively building up a campaign-like structure in early primary states, may be the biggest threat to Democrats’ hopes to keep the presidency in 2016:

Speaking to reporters, counselor to the president Dan Pfeiffer said the Kentucky Republican is “one of the most intriguing candidates” in the field because of his appeal to younger voters of both parties.

“He’s the only Republican I think who has articulated a message that is potentially appealing to younger Americans,” Pfeiffer said at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “Every other Republican running is basically just Romney-lite when it comes to younger Americans.” Rand has made reaching out to non-traditional voters a signature component of his political agenda, most recently delivering a speech Friday to the National Urban League.

Pfeiffer also noted that Paul faces a tough Republican primary, a preview of which has been offered by way of attacks from his likely opponents, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who are trying weaken him before the 2016 horserace begins.

Still, while most Republicans simply talk about reaching out to young people and minorities, Paul is, you know, actually doing it. He highlighted the need for criminal justice reform and the unfairness of nation’s drug laws to Americans from all walks of life at Howard University, a historically black college. The Kentucky Republican spoke about that issue today at the National Urban League conference.

He’s unveiled a bipartisan criminal justice reform proposal — Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (REDEEM) Act — with Sen. Cory Booker (R-NJ) that would allow nonviolent offenders to petition a court to have their criminal record sealed, enabling them to seek employment without any past wrongdoing showing up in a background check.

He visited Detroit, one of America’s most impoverished cities, late last year to discuss community empowerment by easing heavy-handed federal tax and regulatory policies so that struggling cities can pave their own path to prosperity.

Paul gave a speech at the University of California-Berkeley, a school known for its progressivism, in which he discussed the National Security Agency and domestic surveillance programs. He told the young crowd that the fight wasn’t just a fight against the government, but also a fight for their liberty. He got a standing ovation.

And, just this week, Paul filed an amendment to protect states that allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes from an overreaching federal Drug Enforcement Agency, a move that drew praise from civil liberties activists.

In all of this, Paul has managed to maintain his popularity with the Republican Party’s conservative base, and that has put the Kentucky Republican in heart of the 2016 discussion. And, still, he’s the Democratic Party’s worst nightmare.


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