Apr 7, 2015 8:32 PM
MANCHESTER - Hours after formally announcing for president, Sen. Rand Paul made his first stop on the campaign trail in an early voting state, mingling with supporters at a well-known pub and restaurant in the Granite State's largest city.
About 90 minutes after the Republican from Kentucky landed in New Hampshire, he headed to Murphy's Tap Room on Elm Street in Manchester, which was hosting one of the dozens of "Stand with Rand Liberty Karaoke" events across the country.
Paul spent about 15-20 minutes at Murphy's, shaking hands and talking photos with about 50 supporters, and signing a large home-made "Stand with Rand" sign. While there was some karaoke singing, the senator did not belt out a tune.
Among those shaking hands with Paul was New Hampshire state Sen. Kevin Avard, who said he's endorsing Paul at a rally Wednesday at the town hall in Milford.
"I think he's not your typical Republican and he's not part of the establishment, Avard told reporters. "The nice thing about Rand is he's talking about civil liberties and talking about reaching out to everybody."
Another state Senator at the Manchester event, Andy Sanborn, who backed Paul's father in 2012, , former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, said he would be introducing Paul at Wednesday's rally. A senior Paul political aide told NH1 News that some 500 people were expected at the event, the first large rally of Paul's swing through the early voting states in the primary and caucus calendar.
State Rep. Keith Murphy of Bedford, owner of Murphy's Tap room, backed Paul's father in 2012.
Asked about the son, Murphy told NH1 News that "I like what I've heard so far, but I haven't committed to any candidate so far. I supported his father and I support his positions, but it's a little bit early to put your hat into somebody's ring. I'm going to see what else comes down the pike."
"Dr. Paul so far seems to be a very dyed in the wool conservative. And I agree with him on the issues. If that stays consistent, he'll have my support," Murphy added.
Ron Paul brought his family to Murphy's on a regular basis when he was running for president in the 2008 and 2012 cycles, and Rand Paul held an event earlier this year at the adjoining Murphy's diner.
The elder Paul finished a strong second in the 2012 New Hampshire GOP primary, and a strong finish in the first-in-the-nation primary state is considered crucial for the younger Paul's hopes of capturing the 2016 GOP nomination.
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