Rand Paul Wants To Run For President — And Senate : It's All Politics Whether the senator can still keep that electoral insurance policy rests in the hands of Kentucky Republicans this weekend. Kentucky law prohibits it, but his backers are trying to change that.

Rand Paul Wants To Run For President — And Senate

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In Kentucky, you're not allowed to run for president and the U.S. Senate at the same time. State law is very clear about that. That's a problem for Republican senator Rand Paul, so he's trying to craft a kind of insurance policy to keep his options open. He's pushing for a presidential caucus instead of a primary. It would allow him to run for Senate if he happened to become the GOP presidential nominee. Kentucky Republicans will decide the issue this weekend. Ashley Lopez of member station WFPL explains.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: Throughout his short political career, Rand Paul has called himself a constitutional conservative, so it's not a surprise that his pitch to Kentucky Republicans in favor of a caucus relies on the Constitution.

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RAND PAUL: We think there's going to be a constitutional argument that the states all have to have the same for federal election.

LOPEZ: Not all states have laws like Kentucky's, so Paul's workaround is to have state Republicans vote separately for president next year by holding a presidential caucus in March.

At Fancy Farm, the state's big political gathering a few weeks ago, Kentucky Republicans were divided on Paul's proposal. Katie Moyer is a fan of the first-term senator.

KATIE MOYER: Yeah. I think he's doing a great, great job as senator, so I would support him regardless of what he did.

LOPEZ: Carol Miller wants retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be the GOP's presidential nominee.

CAROL MILLER: Rand Paul probably needs to decide if he wants to be president or if he wants to be a senator, you know? So...

LOPEZ: Unlike a primary election where voters go to a polling place organized by the government, a caucus is run by county's local GOP for registered Republicans. The logistics would be complicated. The volunteers needed to administer the election would need lots of training. Scott Lasley is a political ally of Rand Paul's who's pushing the caucus plan.

SCOTT LASLEY: It's kind of a balancing act. What each county chair needs to understand is what the potential benefits are and what it's going to mean from their perspective to pull it off successfully.

LOPEZ: Another issue with the proposed caucus is cost - about half-a-million dollars. To sweeten the deal, Paul's campaign has promised to come up with the money. Paul says he could challenge the constitutionality of the law standing in his way in court, but he says holding a caucus would be easier.

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PAUL: One, it's less expensive and less lengthy just to ask your fellow party members, and you have a better chance asking your fellow party members than you do in the judiciary, probably.

LOPEZ: Even Republicans who haven't made up their minds about Paul thinks a caucus makes more sense. Holding the caucus in March, unlike the usual primaries in May, means presidential candidates would be forced to campaign there. Eric Lane is the vice chair of the Nicholas County GOP.

ERIC LANE: I think it's going to bring a lot of attention to the state.

LOPEZ: But there's one big question looming over the debate. Will Rand Paul's presidential campaign last that long? So far, Paul has lagged in both fundraising and attention. Lane says he likes the idea of a caucus, but he says Paul's campaign issues are a valid concern.

LANE: His campaign is not really picking up a lot of speed right at the moment, so I - you know, I don't know if it's - if this is all going to be a wash anyway for him or not.

LOPEZ: Ultimately, approval of the caucus is not a sure thing. It's up to the roughly 340 people who sit on the state party's central committee. And if it isn't approved, it would be yet another bump on the road, this time at home, for Paul's presidential ambitions. For NPR News, I'm Ashley Lopez in Louisville.

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