Paul himself seemed to appreciate that this was an important moment for himself, confidently acknowledging to POLITICO in an interview that he was “seriously” considering running for president in 2016.

“I think our party needs something new, fresh and different,” he said. “What we’ve been running — nothing against the candidates necessarily — but we have a good, solid niche in all the solidly red states throughout the middle of the country.”

But he suggested previous Republican candidates have had limited appeal to voters beyond the Republican base.

“We have to figure out how to appeal to the West Coast, New England [and] around the Great Lakes area. We need to figure out how to appeal to the blue-collar voters that voted — that were Democrats that voted for Reagan and I think are drifting back because they see us as the party of the wealthy. … I do want to be part of making the Republican Party again more of a national party, less than a regional party, which I think we’re in danger of becoming.”