Power Players

A GOP Plan for 2016: Pot, immigration and defense cuts

Power Players

Spinners and Winners

Ron Paul supporters might want to think twice before throwing away their "Paul for President" signs. Though the frequent presidential candidate is retiring at the end of the year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says he may follow in his father's footsteps and run for president in 2016.

"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.

"We're getting an ever dwindling percent of the Hispanic vote," Paul says. "We have to let people know, Hispanics in particular, we're not putting you on a bus and shipping you home." Paul emphasizes that border security is still his top priority but adds that he wouldn't "rule out" a conditional path to citizenship for those who have been living in the United States illegally for an extended period of time.

The legalization of marijuana is another issue that Paul points to as a way for the GOP to reach more young voters.
Paul himself does not favor legalizing marijuana, but he says individual states -- such as Washington and Colorado, which both voted to legalize in November -- should be allowed to make marijuana legal.

"States should be allowed to make a lot of these decisions," Paul says. "I want things to be decided more at a local basis, with more compassion. I think it would make us as Republicans different."

He also says legal penalties for marijuana should be relaxed.

"I think for example 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 20 years,'" Paul says.

On the issue of the impending fiscal cliff, Paul says the president's successful reelection does not give him a mandate to raise taxes, as some within the Republican Party have conceded. Paul says he will not vote to raise taxes and suggests that there are other paths to compromise that don't include tax increases.

"How about another compromise?" Paul asks. "Republicans who think military spending, myself, who think national defense is important, should compromise and say, you know what, not every dollar spent on the military's sacred, we can reduce the military spending, that's a compromise. Democrats should compromise also -- entitlements and welfare, the spending can come."

To hear more about Sen. Rand Paul's ideas to change the Republican Party's message and his thoughts on his dad's retirement, check out this week's Spinners and Winners.

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