Rand Paul breaks ground at new office in Austin

Sen. Rand Paul speaks at SXSW, Sunday, March 15, 2015 in Austin, Texas.


Ahead of a possible 2016 bid for the White House, the Kentucky senator opened a new technology office Monday in Austin -- a liberal oasis in the staunchly conservative Lone Star state.

"Senator Rand Paul will run the most innovative, tech-forward operation of any elected official in the country," Paul's senior digital strategist, Vincent Harris, said in a statement ahead of the grand opening. "This will be a crowd-sourced campaign that places an emphasis on creativity and innovation."

The office, located in the Capital Factory complex in downtown Austin, will focus on gearing up an "energized" volunteer base to run "the most technologically-savvy campaign in the field," according to the senator's newly hired senior field and technology strategist, Rachel Kania. Paul's shiny new office occupies the same space that hosts indie game developer groups, investment networking seminars, and "music meets tech" happy hours.

Paul appeared in Austin over the weekend at the popular art and tech festival South by Southwest (SXSW). He spoke with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith during a Sunday "Conversation with Rand Paul," touching on tech topics near and dear to the senator.

The Kentucky senator earned a few rounds of applause for his objection to the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, and also previewed a "leave-me-alone coalition" meant to fight for privacy rights.

Paul has been quick among potential candidates to embrace social media. He's an active tweeter and is also one of the few potential presidential candidates on Snapchat.

"We're trying to get new people engaged. This is a new, young audience," Paul said at the tech confab. "I think you have to find people where they are."

It's no wonder then that he's planted a flag in Austin, a city that campaigns to keep itself "weird" and bills itself as a newly emerging millennial mecca.

Paul's Austin office is located at a tech incubator, where he'll have access to the city's hippest startups and a veritable battalion of digital natives close by, even if they're not on his campaign staff. The Kentucky senator commemorated his newly opened office with an atypical Twitter post.

"Thanks to everyone who came out to my tech office opening today in Austin!" Paul tweeted Monday after the close of his event. He added a #SXSW hashtag, and included a picture collage, complete with a photo of the Kentucky senator standing beside a television reporter, who held up her MTV news mic.