WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Rand Paul said on Sunday he was preparing for a possible run for the presidency in 2016, but would not make a final decision until after the November mid-term elections.
One day after winning a preference poll of conservative activists, the Kentucky senator his libertarian message of protection for civil liberties could help the Republican Party grow by attracting young people and minorities.
"We're definitely talking about it, my family's talking about it," Mr Paul said on Fox News Sunday, of a run for the presidency.
"We do the things that would be necessary to make sure that it can happen and will work. But I truly haven't made my mind up and won't make my mind up until after the 2014 elections," he said.
Mr Paul won a straw poll of activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday with 31 per cent of the vote, well ahead of second-place finisher Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas who had 11 per cent.
Mr Paul told the conference on Friday that President Barack Obama was trampling personal liberties with programmes like the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance and offered a strong defence of Fourth Amendment constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
"The youth in particular have lost faith in this president, and so I think there's a real opportunity for Republicans who do believe in the Fourth Amendment to grow our party by attracting young people," Mr Paul told Fox.
Mr Paul, who is up for re-election in 2016, has asked for a clarification of Kentucky state law to determine if he can run for Senate and president simultaneously.
If Mr Paul runs for president, he would join a Republican field that also could include Sen Cruz, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and many others.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who lost a 2012 bid for the Republican nomination, told Fox he also was preparing for another run, but had not made a final decision. He said he would be in Iowa and New Hampshire later this month.