Rand Paul Tests Message in Iowa

Image: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Starts Three-Day Bus Tour Of Iowa In Council Bluffs
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to the media at the Pottawattamie County Republican headquarters on August 4, 2014 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Paul is on a three-day bus tour through Iowa that will take him through nine cities. Eric Francis / Getty Images

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- While Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has not officially declared a bid for the White House in 2016, his presidential ambitions were on full display here as he traveled across the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Paul kicked off a three-day swing thru Iowa on Monday, taking him to eight different cities along the way and several fundraisers for congressional candidates.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. is greeted by local Republicans before speaking at a gathering for local candidates, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Hiawatha, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall / AP

“We heard that Iowa is an important state so we decided we needed to come,” he told reporters at a stop in Council Bluffs. “Some of it is coming to meet people and see if your message resonates.”

And Paul, seen as an early Republican frontrunner, is not holding back on attacking a potential 2016 democratic rival -- Hillary Clinton. He said the 2012 attack on an American consulate in Benghazi while she served as secretary of state “precludes her from ever being commander-in-chief.

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“With Hillary’s war in Libya or Hillary’s war in Syria, none of this was ever approved by Congress,” said Paul. “The president did it unilaterally and in doing so the unintended consequences are there are more Jihadist running amok in Libya, our embassy is now gone in Libya, and there are 15,000 manpads missing.”

I don’t have to remind you who won in Iowa for the presidency last time and the time before. I am not casting any blame on any individual but Iowa didn’t do their part.

At each event, Paul shared his vision for the country, which includes an isolationist foreign policy that some in his own party have criticized. Paul says government’s reach needs to be scaled back domestically as well, and was quick to slam President Barack Obama on the country’s current hot topic -- immigration.

“It doesn't matter what your opinion is on immigration. I frankly think we could do some kind of reform. But you can't do it by royal edict. We can't have a king doing it,” Paul said as he described his view on the president’s handling of the border crisis.

While Paul is testing his message in the first presidential nominating state – talking about protecting the constitution and people’s liberties – there might be just one unseen hurdle standing in the way of his bid: his wife.

"Will you call my wife, she needs to be influenced," the Kentuckian responded to a voter in Council Bluffs Monday who was asking for his timeline to announce.

There are several other potential 2016 candidates also weighing this decision who are heading to the Hawkeye State just as Paul is wrapping up his tour.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are scheduled to speak at the annual Family Leadership Summit Saturday and stop by the famed Iowa State Fair.

Paul has a simple message for each crowd he speaks to here: Do more to elect Republicans.

“I don’t have to remind you who won in Iowa for the presidency last time and the time before. I am not casting any blame on any individual but Iowa didn’t do their part, ya’ll gave us the president who is messing up the country,” he said, noting that a “bigger, broader coalition” must be created for success.