Rand Paul is expanding the reach of his nascent presidential operation to the Granite State, hiring Rick Santorum’s 2012 campaign manager, Mike Biundo, as the chief New England strategist to his political-action committee, RAND PAC.
“Mike will be a valuable asset to my team,” Paul said. ”His experience, passion and leadership will help me advance the principles of liberty. The Republican party needs to grow and Mike will be a vital part of that effort.”
Biundo, who has worked not only for Santorum but also for Pat Buchanan on his 1996 White House bid, will also likely serve as a point of contact for social conservatives within the libertarian-leaning Paul camp.
A New Hampshire native, Biundo worked as a coalitions director on the Romney campaign after Santorum dropped out of the running in 2012. Working for Romney, he met Paul as he stumped for the former Massachusetts governor and helped with outreach to tea-party groups. He’s also had a hand in pulling off some major political upsets: Biundo was deputy campaign manager of Buchanan’s ’96 campaign, which finished a surprising second to Bob Dole in the Iowa caucuses and pulled off an upset victory in the New Hampshire primary.
Biundo joins a handful of senior advisers likely to play key roles in a presidential campaign if Paul decides to launch one. They include Doug Stafford, who runs the senator’s political operations; Jesse Benton, who is currently managing Mitch McConnell’s Senate campaign but is likely to rejoin the Paul team in the fall; Steve Grubbs, the former chairman of the Iowa Republican party, who signed on with RAND PAC last week; strategist and media guru Rex Elsass; and Mike Rothfeld, who handles direct mail.