He was named not long ago to Time Magazine’s 100 most influential list - and now Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who built his reputation on a willingness to challenge big government as well as GOP bedrock beliefs, has announced he’s running for the White House in 2016.
Paul, 52, first announced his candidacy Tuesday morning in a post on his website, followed by a rally today in Louisville.
After Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Paul is now the second major GOP figure to formally declare his candidacy for the Republican nomination in 2016.
The Tea Party favorite and son of libertarian hero Ron Paul has said in the past that the increased visibility he gains from being a presidential prospect will allow him to air his views on a wide range of issues and have those views resonate. The nearly 13-hour Senate filibuster that Paul pulled off two years ago in contesting the Obama administration’s use of drones to kill suspected terrorists – and his recent declaration that the U.S. needs to spend more money to defeat terrorism – have helped catapult the former ophthalmologist into the national eye.
“Paul’s strongest point is that he has an understanding of the American conservative movement and how to articulate it,” Craig Shirley, a Reagan biographer, said recently in an interview. “He is the first politician since Gingrich and before that, Reagan, who has a philosophical framework for making populist conservatism into a popular governing framework.”
Here are a few other noteworthy facts about Sen. Rand Paul:
1: He is selling an "NSA spy cam blocker" with his name on it for $15 through his website. “That little front-facing camera on your laptop or tablet can be a window for the world to see you - whether you know it or not! Stop hackers and the NSA with this simple camera blocker. Safe and practical,” reads the description of the cam blocker.
2: He wants “to reduce the income tax and if possible, eliminate the income tax... The first thing you do is balance the budget, then reduce the size of government,” he has said.
3: He’s a government ombudsman: “[It’s my job to] keep an eye on what our government is up to. As a conservative, I have grave concerns that our government has become completely out of control… Many Americans don’t realize it, which I’m quite sure is completely fine with many elected officials. It’s not ‘fine.’ It’s infuriating.”
4: He’s offended by government abuse of power: “Whether by coincidence or design,” he also says in his 2012 book, Government Bullies, “since EPA regulations began taking property, jobs, and businesses away from citizens, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent. This abuse of power by the implementation of regulations infringes upon all Americans’ basic rights, whether or not some of us are ever directly affected by their rules.”
5: He would “send Roe v. Wade back to the states.”
6: He’s opposed to institutional racism, he has said, and “I would’ve, had I been alive at the time, I think, had the courage to march with Martin Luther King to overturn institutional racism, and I see no place in our society for [it].”
7: He has been leery of sending American troops to fight in any global hotspots without careful congressional oversight: On the Senate floor in March 2011, he said he told his constituents that “when I first ran for office, the most important vote I would ever take would be on sending their men and women — the boys and girls, the young men and women in my state — or anywhere else in the United States — to war. To me, it’s an amazing thing that we would do this so lightly, without any consideration by this august body – to send our young men and women to war without any congressional approval.” He was referring to U.S. participation in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.
8: A surgical ophthalmologist, Paul attended Baylor University, though he did not graduate from it. He is a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine (years ago that medical school did not require an undergraduate degree for entry). He has specialized in cataract and glaucoma surgeries, LASIK procedures, and corneal transplants.
9: In high school in Texas, he was on the swim team and played defensive back on the football team.
10: Paul is married and has three sons. His wife, Kelley, has managed payroll and marketing communications for her husband’s surgical practice in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
11: In 1994 Paul founded Kentucky Taxpayers United, an anti-tax organization that encouraged politicians to pledge publicly to vote uniformly against tax raises.
12: Paul has said he’s a “huge fan” of the anti-tax pledge engineered by Grover Norquist that a number of Republican lawmakers have signed over the years. In the fall of 2012 during the heat of negotiations on how to resolve the fiscal cliff, Paul said on Fox News, “I think [politicians] should be reminded they took a pledge to the voters in their states. They campaigned on it, they said they weren’t raising taxes. They said that is what we believe in.”
13: He received a skeptical reception at Howard University two years ago when he spoke about the GOP’s efforts to appeal to a diverse array of Americans. “Some have said that I’m either brave or crazy to be here,” he told the audience of faculty and students. “I come to Howard today, not to preach, or prescribe some special formula for you, but to say I want a government that leaves you alone.... If you hear me out, I believe you’ll discover that what motivates me more than any other issue is the defense of everyone’s rights.”
14: He believes in immigration reform and in a path to citizenship. In response to those who have accused him of being for “amnesty,” he says this country’s current policies are actually “de facto amnesty... We have 11 million people here that have been here, some of them for a decade or more,” Paul told Fox News two years ago. “No one is telling them to go home. No one is sending them home.”
This article was updated at 1:30 p.m. on April 7, 2015.
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