Sen. Rand Paul’s days-long quest to find the House Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare was derided by GOP lawmakers as a “publicity stunt,” but it might just put the Kentucky senator back in the mix when it comes to influencing Congress as it prepares to make a series of key policy decisions.

Like other Republican presidential contenders, Paul’s showmanship was consistently upstaged by Donald Trump’s last year. But Paul has a knack for putting himself in the center of the conversation.

He did it in his famous “Stand with Rand” filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination, designed to focus attention on drone strikes and extrajudicial killings. One poll found a 50-point swing in favor of Paul’s position on drone strikes after the 2013 filibuster. And he’s done it with other obscure issues that don’t tend to get a lot of attention.

Now, Paul is angling for a chance to shape the healthcare debate, the outcome of which will likely play a huge role in how Republicans are perceived in the 2018 mid-term elections.

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