Rand Paul's NSA rebukes could help or hurt in 2016

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Of the handful of tea party-backed Republicans eyeing a 2016 presidential bid, Sen. Rand Paul is emerging as the most forceful in pushing libertarian principles.

That's especially true for anti-terrorism issues.

The Kentucky freshman is attacking government surveillance programs that many other Republicans defend.

It could hurt Paul if GOP activists decide he over-emphasizes privacy at the expense of secret data-collection programs. The administration says the programs are essential to detecting potential terrorists.

Paul's strategy suggests he hopes to inherit his father's libertarian loyalists even if it might complicate efforts to reach a much wider electorate. Many people dismissed Ron Paul as a fringe candidate with nonmainstream ideas.

His son can't afford that label if he hopes to go further politically.