Rand Paul got a little wild Friday night.

Kentucky's junior senator went on national television, announced he was suing the president of the United States, suggested the Director of National Intelligence and the nation's most prolific sharer of secrets share a prison cell, and took a step closer to the Republican nomination for the president.

So while most of America was thinking TGIF, Paul went on Hannity and announced that he and about 250,000 Americans are suing President Barack Obama and the NSA over the agency's collection of data through domestic surveillance, returning to the issue arena and theatrics that caused his profile to explode less than a year ago.

Paul loves to be underestimated, and he has demonstrated that he knows when and how to maneuver while his opponents are busy counting him out.

So despite whatever scars he has from 2013's plagiarism scandal, Paul's move Friday night could well keep him in 2016 GOP frontrunner neighborhood.

And by Saturday afternoon, he had another 50,000 people signed on to his suit against Obama through his Facebook page and the RAND PAC website. And he had another 50,000 email addresses collected with two years to go before the first presidential primaries.

So after a year of highs and lows matched by few others in American politics -- Obama, Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio -- Paul told his staff that 2014 would be about a return to the issues that got him elected to Washington in 2010.

While some of that means continuing to push for lower taxes and cutting spending while waging a ceaseless and seemingly losing battle against Obamacare, the heart of Paul's plan is to make Fourth Amendment and civil liberties issues central to his year.

Those are the issues that led Paul to his brightest moments in 2013, paving the way to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada as he made more trips to early-voting states than any other potential 2016 candidate, as David Catanese pointed out on TheRun2016.com.

It has only been about nine months since Paul took a huge leap in his efforts to broaden his appeal beyond the Tea Party that sent him to Washington in the first place.

The senator's 13-hour filibuster of the confirmation of John Brennan to be CIA director last March was the catalyst. Almost overnight, Paul was leading early-state polls and talking openly about running for president.

It was a great summer for the junior senator. He was able to spread his wings and his voice became louder in the Republican Party until it seemed that he was setting the pace for Kentucky's senior senator and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a remarkable trick for a freshman.

Paul balanced expanding his national profile with solidifying support in Kentucky, a feat made marginally more difficult by his early endorsement of McConnell which rankled some dyed-in-the-wool Tea Party members who want to upend establishment GOPers.

But for about a week in late October, Paul went on an informal listening tour of the Bluegrass, making 15 stops across the commonwealth as Kentucky became to Paul what the snowy mountains of Russia were to Balboa in Rocky IV. Stop after stop, folks who crowded diners and shook Paul's hand at Rotary Club luncheons urged the senator to run for president, and he almost seemed to be a man in training.

Read The Full Article On The Daily Beast

More articles from The Daily Beast:

© 2013 Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC