- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul drew a contrast Monday with Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, as both seek disillusioned voters who might opt for either party.

During a swing through Minnesota, the Kentucky senator told a young audience at the University of Minnesota to resist promises of free college and other government-driven programs as they size up 2016 candidates.

“If you think that Bernie is great, Bernie wants to give me free stuff and pay for my college, there is no free lunch,” Paul said of the Vermont senator. “Bernie can only pay for your college by taking it from somebody else.”

Sanders was elected as an independent but is running for president as a self-described democratic socialist. Paul criticized his colleague’s governing philosophy as too intrusive and pitched himself as the candidate who will rein in a federal government “run amok.”

Paul’s Minnesota advisers say the potential pool of caucus support overlaps some between Paul and Sanders because their backers have looser affiliation to political parties. Republican State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, a Minnesota co-chairman for Paul, said that disconnect is particularly pronounced among millennials who pick their favorites more on values and ideas than party affiliation. Paul’s campaign has worked hard on college campus organizing, building up more than 300 Students for Rand chapters.

Before his speech, Paul told reporters his campaign is built for caucus states - where the winner is decided based on who shows up during a brief voting window - because they require a stronger level of commitment from voters than primaries. Minnesota holds its caucus March 1, a month after Iowa kicks off the nominating season.

Paul is struggling nationally but has high hopes for Minnesota because it was one of the strongest states for his father Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential bid. He is among the few with an established campaign presence in Minnesota so far.

Not all in the audience Monday were committed to Paul, but several said they like his willingness to buck his party.

“I don’t see him as having tunnel vision. I see him as having a wider vision,” said University of Minnesota freshman Blake Slette, a self-described independent who said his family leans right but friends skew left. He is undecided on a candidate in the first election in which he’s old enough to vote.

A senior adviser to presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton says the Democratic front-runner will be back in Minnesota before year’s end. Clinton communications adviser Karen Finney said the former secretary of state is ramping up her campaign infrastructure in states beyond the pivotal first four. That includes bringing more paid staff aboard in Minnesota, where Clinton lost resoundingly in 2008 to eventual Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Clinton was last in the state in August for a Democratic National Committee meeting.

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