The battle for the 2016 “Republican” presidential nomination is wide open … although U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is doing his best to seize the early frontrunner mantle from a field of would-be contenders including Tea Party darlings Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, his colleagues in the U.S. Senate.

Paul is also looking to differentiate himself from left-leaning establishment candidates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan – not to mention social conservative candidates like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

His preferred mode of differentiation?  Going after presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

At a speech in his home state of Kentucky recently, Paul ripped into Clinton in no uncertain terms – mocking her as out-of-touch and “unfit” to lead the country.

According to National Journal  reporter Shane Goldmacher, Paul asked attendees at a rally in Marshall County, Kentucky to observe a “moment of silence” for Clinton’s finances – which have become the subject of much discussion.

In June, Clinton told ABC’s Dianne Sawyer that she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, left the White House penniless.

“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” she said.

Clinton has since said she “regretted” the comment, referring to it as “inartful.”

“Somebody must have been praying for her, because she’s now worth 100, 200 million,” Paul said, later adding that Clinton didn’t have to suffer alone because “she had her limo driver with her for the last 17 years to commiserate.”

“I hope she can deal with only 100 million,” Paul continued. “I certainly wish that maybe she becomes preoccupied with something else because I don’t think she’s fit to lead the country.”

Ouch …

Paul isn’t the only “Republican” taking aim at Clinton.  This week Rubio clarified a remark in which he referred to the former Secretary of State/ Senator/ First Lady as a “20th century candidate.”

Clinton is also taking fire from Democrats.  In fact, sources in Washington tell FITS the entire dust-up over her wealth is being ginned up by Democratic operatives loyal to Martin O’Malley, the staunch anti-gun governor of Maryland who is eyeing a White House bid in 2016 (when his eyes are open, that is).

FITS has also learned of a national effort by far left progressive operatives aimed at eroding Clinton’s support among die-hard liberals that’s supposed to launch in the coming months.

For his part, Rand Paul will be in early-voting Iowa this week – and is scheduled to appear in early-voting South Carolina on behalf of U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney later this month.