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Iowa Republicans warm up to Rand Paul

DES MOINES -- Sen. Rand Paul was hailed yesterday in Iowa as an emerging party player for his government-shrinking, deficit-cutting message -- nearly four years after his father championed similar themes but was excluded from a Republican presidential forum in Des Moines because of his poor showing in the polls.

The freshman Kentucky senator's message sounded much like the one delivered by his father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, whose presidential campaign ended with a fifth-place showing in the 2008 caucuses.

Now, the younger Paul was scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at an Iowa Republican Party event Saturday night dubbed "Night of the Rising Stars."

The change speaks volumes about the respect now given to the Pauls and the Republican Party's acceptance of much of the father and son's message.

Rand Paul, a leader of the national tea party movement, focused on government regulation and presidential power in his weekend remarks to Iowa College Republicans. He blasted President Barack Obama for overseeing "the most anti-business administration we've ever had," and warned that government-sponsored clean-energy programs would only ship jobs to China, which manufactures parts for many of the of the industry's wind turbines.

"We have an administration full of people who have not been involved in business, who really don't understand what it takes to run a business," he said.

And Paul said the Obama administration's airstrikes on Libya without congressional approval "sets a dangerous precedent" for future chief executives.

Veteran Republican strategist Bob Haus said both Pauls offer a message that resonates with an increasingly conservative party.

Ryan Rhodes, a founder of the tea party movement in Iowa, said he appreciated the state party's willingness to bring a star of the tea party to the state.

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