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Rand Paul to deliver alternate response to State of the Union

On Tuesday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) will deliver his own response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, in yet another example of the presidential hopeful’s desire to build a national profile.

Last year, Paul gave a similar response to the president’s speech. He spoke from the National Press Club and focused on the agenda of the Tea Party Express, which sponsored the speech.

Next week, however, Paul will not speak as a tea party spokesman. Instead, he will prerecord his rebuttal in his Senate office and publish it on YouTube soon after the president finishes. He will then appear on CNN and Fox News that night and sit for several Sunday show interviews later in the week, all part of his drive to draw attention to his critique.

At the moment, Paul’s top advisers, such as Doug Stafford and Sergio Gor, are focused on broadening Paul’s national reach while simultaneously keeping him close to the GOP’s conservative base, who they hope will share Paul’s video response on social media. Next week’s push will be a multi-platform, multi-faceted effort, a Paul aide said.

Paul will not be the only high-profile Republican who will speak out. Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will give the official GOP response, according to the office of House Speaker John A. Boehner. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio gave the Republican rejoinder last year.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R), a close friend of Paul’s and a leading conservative voice during last year’s government shutdown, will also deliver an alternative GOP response to the president’s speech. Like Paul’s speech last year, Lee’s will be sponsored by the Tea Party Express.

According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey of New Hampshire Republicans, Paul is tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for second place among potential GOP contenders, each with 12 percent support. Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leads the pack with 24 percent support.

Robert Costa is a national political reporter at The Washington Post.

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