One senior Republican leadership aide gushed with admiration over the freshman senator, emphasizing that he’s been able to tailor his libertarian ideology toward legislation that holds broader appeal. The adviser touted his involvement on right-to-work legislation, his call to audit the Federal Reserve, and even his leadership on legalizing industrial hemp – legislation first pushed by his father, which has now won support from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Rand is somebody who has the generational know-how to turn it into 21st century machine. He gets branding. He understands there’s a need for credibility,” said the adviser. “He understands he doesn’t have the answers to everything. He’s not afraid of input, but is totally confident in listening to input to help achieve his goals.”

One of the areas where he’s taken a lot of feedback is on foreign policy, which critics have tagged as being synonymous with his father’s controversial views. But in a sign that he’s looking beyond just his next re-election, Paul made a high-profile trip to Israel, gave a foreign policy speech to the Heritage Foundation designed to smooth over the rough edges of his foreign policy worldview, and joined most of his Republican colleagues in blocking Hagel. He reached out to Israel supporters, framing his distaste for overseas interventions as one that would prevent the U.S. from putting undue pressure on Israel, getting a jibe at President Obama in the process.