Behold the junior senator and Tea Party hero from Kentucky, best known for citing the U.S. Constitution, Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
On Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul threw his support behind legalizing the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., signaling his determination to expand his following beyond the tea party movement as he positions himself for a 2016 presidential campaign. Just two years ago, Paul was pushing to end birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.
Paul's first major speech on the topic came the same day the Iowa Republican Party announced he would headline their annual fundraiser -- a coveted stage for auditioning presidential candidates -- and one day after a Republican National Committee report embraced immigration reform as a way to boost the party's appeal with Hispanic voters. Paul's speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington was striking not for its policy details -- in fact, they were quite fuzzy -- but for the obvious charm offensive it represented toward the fastest growing part of the electorate.
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"I think his goal is to appeal to a broader audience," said Sal Russo, a chief adviser to the Tea Party Express and a longtime Republican strategist. "Immigration is not a defining Tea Party issue like spending and debt, and there is a wide spectrum of viewpoints on it. I think it's a political winner."