Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said at a breakfast meeting Wednesday morning that he's considering a run for the White House in 2016.

"We're considering it and won't make a decision before 2014," he told an audience at The Christian Science Monitor's breakfast series, according to quotes published in The Hill.

Paul added that his early announcement of interest in a race still nearly four years off will ensure he's "part of the national debate."

"Being considered is something that allows me to have a larger microphone," he said.

The libertarian-leaning senator is the first federally elected Republican to openly declare interest in the 2016 contest during a time when most of his colleagues want to be as non-specific about their ambitions as possible.

That might have something to do with Paul's father, the retired Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who repeatedly ran for the Republican nomination to the presidency with little success.

Despite his numerous failed runs, Paul inspired a near-fanatical following that disrupted the 2012 Republican convention and continues to support his son.

Paul told the Monitor's breakfast crowd that he feels President Barack Obama has "not shown much leadership" on Republican causes like slashing Social Security payments and cutting Medicare costs, adding that he would make dramatic changes to the nation's beloved social safety net programs.

He also recently told an audience of mostly African-American college students that being upset about Republican voter suppression efforts "demeans" the civil rights movement.


Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore.