January 19, 2014
Rand Paul’s move to sue the National Security Agency is his latest expression of outrage about government overreach and invasion of privacy.
It’s also an unusual play by the likely presidential candidate to advance his political ambitions.
Largely unnoticed in Paul’s effort is this: the names and email addresses of anyone who registers support for his class-action suit against the NSA goes straight into the Kentucky Republican senator’s political database, which he could leverage into a campaign.
It’s one of the most high-profile attempts yet by a potential 2016 White House candidate to link a specific policy debate to unabashed campaign politics, and strategists say it’s a smart way to bulk up his campaign list and energize his base. Legal success or failure aside, Paul supporters view the effort as a chance for him to drive the conversation on a hot-button issue while honing his brand as a small-government champion and making overtures to young voters, a group he’s betting cares deeply about protecting privacy.