Rand Paul is doing more than any other Republican to reach out to voters, and that could put him in the White House

Libertarianism is starting to become so popular in the media that it’s annoying. Mainstream outlets like the New York Times Magazine, Time, Washington Post, and Politico are trumpeting the rise of libertarians within the Republican Party and the country as a whole, as well as Rand Paul’s corresponding march toward a 2016 campaign.

This week the civil libertarian Vice joins the chorus with as friendly a profile as you can hope for from a leftist publication. Vice uses Senator Paul’s recent unexpected Time op-ed as a launching point to tout his mass appeal on a wide array of issues:

But with half of the GOP’s 2016 bench trying to avoid prison time and Democrats spinning their wheels in Obama’s second-term rut, the idea of a President Rand Paul is starting to sound less and less crazy.
Take Paul’s comments about the events in Ferguson, Missouri. In an op-ed published by Time on Thursday, the Kentucky Senator laid out a remarkably blunt, even angry, assessment of the racial tensions at the center of this week’s riots, linking policing issues to his broader critique of the federal government.

After noting his outreach efforts at Berkley, Howard University, and aisle-crossing overtures on drones, criminal sentencing reform, and medical marijuana state rights, Vice then hints at the tactical advantage such issues bring the Kentucky Senator:

As you are no doubt aware, Obama crushed both John McCain and Mitt Romney among voters ages 18-29 (66-32 and 60-37, respectively). But George W. Bush was basically tied with both Al Gore and John Kerry among that demographic. If Paul can use civil liberties as a wedge issue to eat away at Democratic margins with young people—particularly in swing states like Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, and in the West—he might actually have a shot in 2016. And the more Hillary Clinton keeps reminding people of her hawkish, autocratic proclivities the more likely it gets that voters will be open to other options.

It’s not just young voters that Paul hopes to attract with his libertarian approach. Some of the aforementioned outreach and issues could bring a few more black voters into his camp (some would be better than none), and his softer (though often confused) position on immigration could do the same for Hispanic voters.

It’s going to be a long two years, and family issues and GOP establishment will provide plenty of roadblocks, but if he’s already passing the viability test from these mainstream and leftist outlets, he’s at least got a shot.

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