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April 25, 2014

Rand Paul seeks new allies among Romney 2012 team

BOSTON — Fighting to move beyond his father's shadow, Sen. Rand Paul is crafting new alliances with the Republican Party establishment during a Northeast tour that began Friday in Boston.

The 51-year-old Kentucky Republican, son of libertarian hero and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, headlined an afternoon luncheon hosted by top lieutenants of former presidential nominee Mitt Romney — a private meeting that comes as Paul weighs a 2016 presidential bid of his own. To succeed in a national campaign, however, those close to Paul acknowledge that he must broaden his appeal beyond the tea party and libertarian-minded activists who rallied behind his father's long-shot presidential runs.

"Ron's retired. Ron's political career was obviously a help to Rand, but he's finished," said Doug Stafford, Rand Paul's former chief of staff who now leads his political action committee. "This is about Rand."

The freshman senator attended the luncheon at the private-equity firm Solamere Capital, a Boston-area company led by Romney, his former national finance chairman Spencer Zwick and Romney's oldest son, Tagg. Later in the afternoon, Paul speaks to Harvard University's Institute of Politics, where one of Romney's most trusted aides serves as a fellow. He finishes his Boston swing by addressing a national conference of ophthalmologists, where he plans to draw from his personal experience as an eye doctor in an effort to broaden his image.

Paul has yet to announce his intentions for the 2016 presidential contest but says he's seriously considering a run.

Former Romney aides and officials at the Republican National Committee said Paul is building on consistent outreach to GOP establishment figures that already distinguishes his record from his father's.

Paul endorsed Romney in 2012 soon after the former Massachusetts governor became the presumptive GOP presidential nominee; Paul's father never endorsed Romney. Over the last year, Paul has stood alongside Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in places like New Hampshire and Michigan as the national party works to mend internal divisions and strengthen its appeal among young people and minorities. Paul has helped fellow Republicans across the political spectrum raise money, as he is expected to do Saturday for Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who is widely considered a moderate.

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