Speaking to supporters from rural Elko to a Las Vegas convention center, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul said on Monday that his path to a presidential nomination relies strongly on winning over Nevadans.
The Kentucky senator stopped at casino resorts and ballrooms from Reno to Mesquite on Monday as part of his “Stand with Rand” tour, looking to win over small-government Republicans he believes are key to a successful result in Nevada’s February presidential caucus.
“We also think there’s a natural fit for people who moved out west to get away from big government,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And particularly in these rural areas, these are the independent-minded Republicans, sort of ‘leave-me-alone’ Republicans that we’re looking for.”
Paul, who is the first 2016 presidential candidate to visit the small towns of Elko and Mesquite, says his views on limited government and allocating more power to states will help him win over Nevada voters. He echoed earlier proposals to create a flat 14.5 percent tax on individuals and businesses, which he claims will simplify an increasingly byzantine tax code and spur economic development.
Paul’s limited-government philosophy extends to several Nevada-centric issues, including a recently approved $1.4 billion tax hike pushed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to help fund K-12 education.
“I’ve yet to meet a Nevada Republican who supports raising taxes,” he said. “I think I fit well with the voters, and I think the Legislature misread the voters on this one.”
Issues like a potential endangered species listing for sage grouse and 2016 ballot initiatives on legal recreational marijuana and universal background checks on private gun sales should be left to the state without interference from the federal government, Paul said.
As for possibly opening a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Paul said the issue would likely be easier to swallow if the federal officials gave over control of the land and let the state legislature decide what to do.
Paul enjoys residual support from Nevada’s libertarian Republican Party due in part to the 2008 and 2012 presidential bids of his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Rand Paul has visited Nevada several times since announcing his presidential bid, including an April rally in Las Vegas.
Winning the state is a top priority, he said. “We’re well organized, and we are going to extend the effort and the time to put everything in and go all in to win Nevada,” Paul said.