Rand Paul opens San Francisco area office. Preparing for 2016?

Rand Paul will open an office in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is challenging the 'idiots and trolls' in Washington – a move that smacks of courting big Silicon Valley money for a potential 2016 presidential bid.

Chris Carlson/AP
Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky speaks at the California GOP convention on Saturday in Los Angeles. Senator Paul has sought a broader audience this year, as he has aggressively traveled the country ahead of a potential presidential bid in 2016.

Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky has said he will open an office in the San Francisco Bay Area. On the surface, it might seem a tad odd, at least from a more traditional political perspective. California, after all, goes Democrat in presidential elections. What kind of chance does a Republican really have there in two years? The answer, according to numerous analyses of Senator Paul's political tactics, lies in his plan to expand the GOP base, sway independent voters, and, of course, endear himself to the "libertarian streak" in Silicon Valley. 

Paul, in his latest indication of a potential 2016 presidential bid, told The San Francisco Chronicle Saturday that he was "in the process" of opening the northern California office, adding that he'll be coming to the region "fairly often." 

"There's a lot of smart people in Silicon Valley, and we want to use their brains to figure out how to win," he said in an interview with the paper, playing coy about what precisely he's trying to win. 

Those remarks came shortly after a speech to California state Republicans in which he emphasized the importance of Republicans winning in California. "If we want to win the presidency, we have to figure out how to compete in California," he said, according to the Chronicle. He also criticized President Obama for acting unilaterally on decisions ranging from immigration policy to authorizing airstrikes against the Islamic State.

Paul's northern California move is in keeping with the trajectory he has taken in recent months to convince Silicon Valley tech wizards that the federal government is stifling innovation coming out of the valley. In a July speech at the Lincoln Labs Reboot conference in San Francisco, where techies and Republican Party members came together to share ideas, he emphasized that Mr. Obama wants to obstruct, not encourage, the kind of work emerging from Silicon Valley. 

"[Obama] is not for innovation. He's not for freedom. He's for the protectionism crowd. You know he's for the crowd that would limit the activities of these companies," he told people at the conference, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

He further painted the situation in Washington as dire – desperate for a fix that only top tech talent could provide. 

"I have nothing but optimism when I'm out here because I see amazing potential for growth away from the disaster that is Washington. I don't have to think there has to be a governmental solution for everything," he said. "Don't be depressed with how bad government is. Use your ingenuity, use your big head to think of solutions the marketplace can figure out, that the idiots and trolls in Washington will never come up with." 

In July, Paul also attended the Allen & Co. media and technology conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he took private meetings with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Politico reported. It's not the first time libertarian ideology and Silicon Valley have gone hand in hand. Paul's father, former US Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, received $2.6 million from Mr. Thiel in 2012 to a super political action committee supporting his failed presidential campaign. 

But more than money – though that's surely a key motivator in his inroads to the tech world – it's all part and parcel of a broader strategy to make the Republican Party more diverse. At a speech to the Detroit Economic Club in December, for example, he said that the struggling city, a Democratic stronghold, would not see a bright future "come from Washington." Rather, he highlighted the idea of "economic free zones" that would see federal taxes cut in communities with a 12 percent unemployment rate or higher, attracting more business activity, the Detroit Free Press reported. 

In that speech, he also laid out his vision of the Republican Party's image problem: To win votes, particularly in urban areas, it needs to look younger and more diverse, he said. 

"We need to be a more diverse party if we're ever going to win again. We need people with tattoos, ponytails and earrings," he said, according to the Free Press. "The Democratic Party is more diverse than we are. We lose all the big cities. We have to change or we won't win nationally again." 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.