- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Twenty Republican state representatives in New Hampshire - 8 percent of the GOP caucus - are throwing their support behind Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

Paul’s team announced the endorsements Monday during a campaign swing through New Hampshire that lasted less than 12 hours. Paul addressed a small group of business owners in Manchester and then hosted a town hall in Londonderry before heading back to Washington, D.C., for Senate votes. He outlined his standard campaign themes - shrinking government and reining in its powers - at both stops.

Paul is the first Republican candidate to release a lengthy list of supporters in New Hampshire, home to the first presidential primary. The newly released list includes representatives from Bedford to Keene, many with libertarian-leaning political views. State Sens. Andy Sanborn, of Bedford, and Kevin Avard, of Nashua, also are backing Paul’s candidacy.

“We really want someone who is brave enough to stand up for the Republican platform in this state,” said Rep. Victoria Sullivan, of Manchester.

Sullivan said she likes Paul’s desire to give control back to the states.

“That was the intention of our Founding Fathers,” she said.

Paul set himself apart from the rest of the Republican field on several occasions and hit former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for supporting bulk data collection by the National Security Agency. Paul is a staunch critic of the USA Patriot Act, the law written after Sept. 11, 2001, that has become the basis for widespread collection of phone records.

Congress is debating whether to renew the act this month. Some 2016 candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, support it, but Paul plans to vote against it.

“I’ll go after terrorists, but you go after terrorists the same way you go after rapists or murderers: You call up the judge, and you get a warrant,” Paul said. “It’s not that hard to get a warrant.”

Paul told the business crowd that, if elected president, he would eliminate the Department of Commerce and dramatically scale back the Departments of Energy and Education.

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