IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Rand Paul 'interested' in 2016 presidential race

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) ran three unsuccessful presidential campaigns, and as he retires from Congress after a lengthy career, it appears unlikely he'll run for a fourth time.

But Paul fans can take some solace in the fact that his son appears likely to follow in his father's footsteps.

"I'm not going to deny that I'm interested," Sen. Paul tells ABC's Jonathan Karl about his presidential aspirations. While Paul is quick to add that he isn't ready to make a decision about a presidential bid yet, he is not hesitant to say that the Republican Party needs a new message.

"I think we have to go a different direction because we're just not winning and we have to think about some different ideas," says the senator.

Paul says there are ways the GOP can become more competitive in regions of the country that typically swing blue in national races, such as the West Coast and New England, while expanding its appeal among different groups of people, like Hispanics and young people.

The Kentucky Republican believes he can appeal to Latino voters by opposing aggressive deportation policies, and can reach out to the youth vote by allowing states to make marijuana use legal. I suspect his party's demographic challenges are more complex, but he's obviously free to give it a shot.

In the larger context, though, the next question is whether the freshman senator, two years into his only experience in public office, deserves to be taken seriously as a candidate for national office.

Opinions vary on Ron Paul's seriousness as a national candidate, but I suspect most neutral observers would agree that the congressman didn't fully expect to get elected, but rather, sought a larger platform to present his unique perspective while reaching a national audience. I'm sure he would have liked to be president, but during his campaigns, I imagine he knew all along electoral success was unlikely, and it was probably seen as a secondary concern.

Similarly, I suspect Rand Paul doesn't actually believe he'll be taking the oath of office in January 2017 as the nation's next president, but rather, he too wants to keep the Paul message alive on the national stage.

Then again, when Rand Paul launched his Senate bid, his campaign was hard to take seriously -- he was a self-accredited ophthalmologist with no background in government and limited knowledge of Kentucky -- right up until he easily won both the primary and general election.