"The more the merrier," Rand Paul said when asked Wednesday about the possibility of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush entering the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Paul, a possible GOP contender himself, made five stops in New Hampshire on Wednesday, including a morning meeting with liberty-minded state lawmakers and a private session with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas after that.
The Kentucky Senator's visit served as the unofficial kickoff for the runup to the 2016 New Hampshire Primary. Former New York Gov. George Pataki was in the Granite State earlier this week, but Paul is the first high-profile potential presidential contender to visit so far in 2015. Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina and John Bolton are already scheduled to travel to the state next month, and a group trying to convince Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run will hold its first meeting New Hampshire on Saturday.
Whether Paul is able to carve out any room in a Republican field that could include Romney, Bush, Chris Christie, Perry and other more recognizable names is a question that remains to be answered. But he should have a solid base here in New Hampshire, where his father, Ron Paul, finished second to Romney in the 2012 primary.
Many of Ron Paul's 2012 supporters appear to have already jumped on the Rand Paul bandwagon. Several were in attendance at Wednesday's meeting with a select group of lawmakers at Murphy's Diner, though Rand Paul told The Boston Globe's James Pindell afterward that he would not ask his father to campaign for him in New Hampshire if he does decide to run for president.
Paul spent about 30 minutes addressing and answering questions from the lawmakers gathered at Murphy's on Wednesday morning, focusing on familiar topics like the Keystone XL pipeline, taxes, immigration and ISIS.
"I'm not for not being involved at all," he said of ISIS and the situation in Iraq. "I think that it is a mess, but there are times that we have to defend ourselves. I'm worried about ISIS, that they are a threat."
Paul said he is for providing "some military help" for those trying to fight ISIS, but that would not include putting American troops on the ground.
On immigration, he said he ultimately supports "normalizing" those who are already in the country illegally.
"Let's normalize them at some point and allow them to work and pay taxes," Paul said. "But I wouldn't do any of that until the border is secure."
He didn't reference any of his potential 2016 GOP opponents in his remarks, only addressing the matter when asked about Romney and Bush afterward by an Associated Press reporter.
Paul also attended a Second Amendment Supporter Event at the Londonderry Fish & Game Club. The event was billed as open press, but the media was not allowed in for Paul's speech and question and answer session.
Later in the day, he held an Education Q&A Session on Common Core at a Manchester charter school, and he wrapped up his day by meeting with business leaders and activists at The Draft in Concord, which is owned by State Sen. Andy Sanborn, co-chair of Ron Paul's 2012 New Hampshire campaign.