- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - Potential 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky will be the keynote speaker for a major southwest Ohio Republican banquet, a GOP official announced Thursday.

Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou said the party wanted a national figure for its annual Lincoln-Reagan fundraiser dinner.

“He is definitely part of the national conversation,” Triantafilou said. “He’ll energize our party.”

The senator from an Ohio neighboring state is among several Republicans often mentioned as expected presidential contenders. Ohio has two of its own possible Republican candidates in Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.

The state is a perennial political battleground, and Hamilton County has become a swing county within the swing state, won twice by Barack Obama, who in 2008 became the first Democrat to carry the county since 1964.

Kasich, who is running for re-election this year, spoke at the dinner last year. Hamilton County native Portman, who was under consideration to be Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, will introduce Paul.

Southwest Ohio has many active tea party groups, but Triantafilou said he thinks Paul has even broader support on a variety of issues.

Paul has been speaking out against the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records and recently sued the Obama administration.

Triantafilou said details including time and place are still being worked out for the May 16 event.

The Cincinnati region is also trying to land the 2016 Republican National Convention, citing the proximity to northern Kentucky hotels and attractions across the Ohio River as part of its pitch.


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