WASHINGTON Sens. Marco Rubio’s and Rand Paul’s delivery of back-to-back rebuttals of President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress — Rubio as the Republican response, Paul as the tea party rejoinder — raises some tantalizing questions:
With Rubio being stamped as the early favorite in the 2016 Republican White House race, is Paul emerging as a leading alternative among tea party faithful and other hard-line conservative activists?
If so, does he risk further fracturing a Republican Party that’s trying to move toward the center and soften its rough edges in the wake of Obama’s decisive re-election three months ago?
Paul, who joined Congress at the same time as Rubio in January 2011, acknowledged Wednesday that he is weighing a presidential run.