Is Sen. Rand Paul for Real?

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Unquestionably, Sen. Paul will have a role in the 2016 primary process. His built-in audience, ability to clearly articulate his views on controversial topics and delicate place in next year's most important Senate race will all contribute to a growing national profile.

But he must overcome an almost reflexive dislike of Congress among the electorate, establish himself clearly outside of his father's long shadow and build a record of achievement in a deadlocked Congress.

His competition will be stiff: Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas appear to be interested in a run, while Gov. Christie and dark horse candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana could pose formidable challenges before the ophthalmologist from Kentucky can set his sights on the Republican presidential nomination.

Joe Brettell is a former Capitol Hill aide and GOP public relations consultant. On Twitter at @joebrettell

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