LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, the tea party Republican who has acknowledged he's interested in a presidential bid in 2016, insisted Friday that he would seek re-election to the Senate that year.
The quandary for Paul is that he has to choose one or the other because, under Kentucky law, he's legally precluded from running for both.
Paul told reporters after a speech to Lexington business leaders on Friday that he has formed a re-election committee and that he intends to be on the ballot for Senate, though he still didn't rule out running for president.
"I'm really not going to equivocate on whether I'm running for Senate or not," Paul said. "That will happen." As far as a presidential bid, Paul said "it will probably be two years before we have a serious discussion" about that.
Republican strategist Mike Karem, a Louisville attorney, said Paul has put himself in a precarious position by telling ABC News last month that he's interested in a presidential run.
"He's trying to ride two horses at the same time," Karem said of Paul. "He could slip and fall."
Paul, the son of Texas Republican Ron Paul who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination this year, was elected to the Senate from Kentucky in 2010.
Karen said uncertainty about which race the younger Paul will enter could have a chilling effect on his fundraising. He said it could also cause some other GOP candidates to begin positioning themselves for Paul's Senate seat.
"I think talk about him being a presidential candidate undercuts his credibility as a Senate candidate," said University of Louisville political scientist Laurie Rhodebeck. "Even though the re-election rate of Senate incumbents is extraordinarily high, one of the reasons why those folks get voted out is when they're perceived as too greedily seeking options outside their state. Ambition sometimes gets punished."
Paul said Friday he hasn't consulted with Kentucky legislators about changing the state law to allow candidates to run for two offices.
"We have not looked at that or discussed that with anybody," he said. "The only thing that we have made absolute plans is that I have formed a re-election committee and I will run for the U.S. Senate."