Tea Partiers Stand By Rand Paul Despite Immigration Conversion

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The Tea Party Still Loves Rand Paul

Like Russo, Kibbe gave Paul some leeway because of his recent filibuster.

"Can you imagine any other presidential candidate talking for 12 hours without a script?" Kibbe asked. "Would Mitt Romney do that? I don't think so."

Jenny Beth Martin, the head of the Tea Party Patriots, also noted that immigration is outside of their wheelhouse, but said they were "aligned" with Paul on the issue of border security, which is the first step in his own proposal he laid out Tuesday.

"The way we've approached immigration is the borders need to be secure," Martin said. "Real action needs to be taken to secure the border and then once that happens we will talk about other immigration policies."

Martin added that Paul has "championed our values and principals, for constitutionally limited government and for that he has gained the Tea Party's respect."

Paul will have an advantage over his potential primary opponents if he has the Tea Party's backing in 2016. On Tuesday, just hours after his immigration address, the Iowa GOP announced he would be headlining their Lincoln Day Dinner in May, another sign he's at least considering testing the waters.

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