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Mar 7, 2015 3:05 AM

Paul seeks clear path for dual campaigns

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) Republican Sen. Rand Paul takes the first step toward running for president when he asks state party leaders to endorse his idea to create a 2016 presidential caucus in Kentucky.

The move would clear the way for Paul to run for president and for re-election to his Senate seat without breaking a state law that bans candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election.

A vote Saturday by the Republican Party of Kentucky's executive committee would endorse the concept of a caucus and instruct a committee to come up with a plan on how to implement one. More importantly for Paul, it would be an early endorsement of his unusual plan for dual campaigns ahead of a wide open Republican presidential primary.

"Everyone is very open-minded and would like to be as supportive as possible of the senator's efforts to move forward with campaigning for the office of president - if that's what he chooses to do," said committee member Sara Beth Gregory, a former state senator.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the other potential Republican presidential candidate up for re-election in 2016, has said he would not run for both offices.

The caucus is a Plan B for Paul, whose earlier attempts to change state law were thwarted by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. And it does not solve his general election problem. If Paul were to win the Republican nomination for president, he would likely need a court order to appear on the ballot twice in November.

Paul cleared perhaps his largest hurdle last month when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly endorsed the plan. A McConnell spokesman said McConnell was skeptical at first but agreed to it after Paul promised it would be a one-time event that he would raise money to pay for.

"He's got nearly $4 million in his Senate campaign account. He could cover the cost of the caucus just in what he has on hand now," Paul spokesman Dan Bayens said.


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