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Former Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul sees the likely GOP nominee for president in 2016 as none other than his own flesh and blood, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

But the former, three-time presidential hopeful has some words of caution for his son, if he follows in his father’s footsteps: “Be very cautious – you could get elected.”

Rep. Paul was appearing on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” Thursday night, when Leno asked him if he thought his son would run for president.

At first, Paul deflected, saying, “I’ve never talked to him about it.”

But Leno pressed, “What advice would you give [Rand]?”

“I would say, ‘Be very cautious – you could get elected,’” answered Paul. “That’s the risk you run in politics.”

The response was met with applause from the audience.

And when, at the end of the interview, Leno asked Paul to predict the Republican nomination, the former Libertarian and GOP candidate alluded directly to his Kentucky senator son: “Well, probably somebody who lives in Texas – I mean used to live in Texas, lives in Kentucky now. He’ll probably end up getting it.”

Leno also asked if Paul’s son Rand was a “tea-party guy.”

“I think so,” Paul responded. “I think when he ran for Senate, he sort of surprised me. … I didn’t think he would do all that well. … But most of the grass-root organization came from tea-party groups, that meant people who were sick and tired of both parties because they didn’t trust either party, and they were people who were sick and tired of big government spending and all the debt.

“[Rand] told me the size of the nonpartisan groups, much much bigger, parties aren’t very popular these days,” Paul continued.

“Your son seems to be getting more moderate to me,” claimed Leno. “A couple of weeks ago, I saw him sort of praising President Obama for something he did.”

“If I call him a moderate, I’ll destroy his political career.” Paul responded. “You don’t want me to do that.”

As WND reported, if Sen. Rand Paul does run for president in 2016, he’s already spelled out his strategy for the GOP to retake the White House, in part by attract new voters – particularly young voters – with his libertarian values.

“You can see the whole, entire youth vote could switch, if we know what we’re doing,” the senator confided to a gathering of the Liberty Political Action Conference.

Sen. Paul acknowledged Obama had the youth vote, but he said the president is losing it, and one big reason is the issue of privacy: “If we want to get the youth vote, it’s not like we have to change our message. They don’t care so much about taxes or regulations – they don’t have much money to care about – but they’ve all got a cell phone. They’re all on the Internet, and they do care about whether the government should be looking at their every search on the Internet or listening to their phone calls or recording their phone records.”

The senator seemed convinced, given the NSA scandal and increasing concerns over privacy in the digital age, promoting just this one issue could lead to game-changing results for the GOP.

“If we want a transformational election where the Republicans become the dominant party, we could become the right to privacy party, the party that doesn’t believe in big government surveillance,” he said.

He also portrayed Democrats as particularly vulnerable on the privacy issue.

“You can see the Democrats nominating somebody … who’s probably the least likely to protect your privacy among Democrats? Hillary Clinton,” he drily observed.

Sen. Paul said he believes the time is right for the GOP to embrace libertarianism.

“I think there are all kinds of ways we can grow the party, and instead of the libertarian element being an impediment, it has come full circle and it really is the way the Republican party will grow,” he told the audience in Chantilly, Va.

Sen. Paul’s speech itself can be seen below:

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