Rand Paul: “I’m interested” in 2016 presidential run; GOP should lay off marijuana

In an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) admits he’s open to running for president in 2016.

Asked directly whether he was going to run for president in 2016, Paul responded, “You know, I want to be part of the national debate. I think it’s a little too soon to talk about it, who’s gonna run and who’s not gonna run, and to tell you the truth I don’t know what will come. Am I interested in thinking about that? Yes.”

“You’re thinking about running for president?” Karl followed up.

“Yeah,” Paul said. “But am I someone that’s gonna make the decision, am I ready to make the decision now, no.”

“But there’s a real chance we’ll see a Rand Paul for President,” Karl asked, “carrying that mantle of libertarian conservatism?”

“We’ll see what happens,” Paul said, smiling. “Too early to tell.”

“Usually when people say that it’s almost a declaration of candidacy,” Karl said, and Paul nodded and laughed.

“Well, you know,” Paul responded, “I am different than some in that I’m not gonna deny that I’m interested.”

Paul went on to name some things he believed needed to change about the Republican party.

“I’m not gonna that I think we have to go a different direction because we are – we’re not winning, we’re just not winning,” Paul said. “We’re getting an ever dwindling percentage of the Hispanic vote. We need to let people know — Hispanics in particular — we’re not putting you on a bus and shipping you home.”

But Paul emphasized that he was still on the side the “hardcore immigration people” when it came to border security. “I will insist that border security’s first,” Paul said, “but I’m also not gonna rule out that we can’t figure out an eventual way if you’ve been living here for ten or twenty years that you can’t become like the rest of us.”

Aside from Hispanics, Paul said the Republican party also needs to do more to reach out to young voters. One way, Paul says, is to soften the rhetoric on marijuana. “We should tell young people, I’m not in favor of you smoking pot, but if you get caught smoking pot, I don’t want to put you in jail for twenty years.” Paul went on to say that states such as Washington and Colorado, which recently passed controversial laws legalizing recreational marijuana, should absolutely have that right.

Regarding working with Democrats in the Senate, Paul pledged again that he would not compromise on taxes and would not vote for any bill that included an increase in taxes.