Rand Paul’s nationwide organization, which counts more than 200 people, includes new backers who have previously funded more traditional Republicans, along with longtime libertarian activists. Paul, of Kentucky, has also been courting Wall Street titans and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who donated to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, attending elite conclaves in Utah and elsewhere along with other GOP hopefuls.

For the rest of this year, his national team’s chief duties will be to take the lead in their respective states in planning fundraisers and meet-ups and helping Paul’s Washington-based advisers get a sense of where support is solid and where it’s not. This is especially important in key early primary battlegrounds, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and in areas rich in GOP donors, such as Dallas and Chicago…

At the Romney retreat last year in Park City, Utah, Paul gained some fans among the GOP elite. Though few pledged to back him should he run for president, they did warm up to him.

“Going in, people weren’t sure. Most of them didn’t know him,” recalled Ron Kaufman, a Romney confidant. “But they had these one-on-one meetings with him and came away saying he’s a sharp guy. They were still in the grieving stage, not ready to think about 2016, but their opinion of him increased rather dramatically.”