Rand Paul: Odds Good 1 of Pauls Will Run for Prez

By Bruce Schreiner | March 24, 2011 | 5:18 PM EDT

Louisville, Ky. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says the odds are better than 50-50 that a Paul will run for president next year but it's unclear who would be the family standard-bearer. But one thing is certain: the younger Paul won't make a bid for the White House if his father, Ron Paul, tries again.

Ron Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2008.  Now Rand Paul, the junior Kentucky senator and tea party favorite, is being encouraged to jump into the coming political fray if his father sits out next year's race - never mind that  he's only weeks into the job after one of the most-watched Senate races last fall.

The Kentucky senator said he's not ruling out a bid if his father decides against a repeat run.

"The biggest decision for me is whether my father runs or not," the younger Paul told reporters Thursday.

Nonetheless, Rand Paul said it sounded "pretty reasonable" that one of the politically prominent Pauls would be in play.

"I think there will be one on the ballot," Paul told reporters after speaking to a Rotary club gathering in Louisville. "I think there's a good chance of that."

Rand Paul added that he is preparing to visit Iowa, the state that holds the nation's lead-off caucuses. Early next month, he will speak at an Iowa Republican event dubbed "Night of the Rising Stars."

Any entry by the younger Paul would further cement his swift political rise. The eye doctor from the Kentucky city of Bowling Green won election in November after emerging from near obscurity and endearing himself to conservatives with his prescription of balanced budgets, low taxes and less government regulation.

Though a freshman senator, Paul says he's already getting encouragement to run.

"We've had supporters in different states indicate that if my father is not running, that they would like me to," he said.

Paul said he and his father have talked "indirectly" about next year's race.

"I don't know if he's made his decision yet," he added.

No matter what ensues, Paul said he would like to play a part in next year's GOP primary sweepstakes in some form.

"I just want to be part of that, whether it's actually as a candidate or just trying to help decide who the candidate is," Paul said. "I just don't know that yet."

He said the tea party deserves a role in determining the GOP nominee.

Any Paul in contention would face a crowded field of Republicans hoping to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama.