NEW YORK -- Rand Paul is running for president. Announcing his candidacy in Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday, the doctor, Libertarian and son of two-time Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul became the second high-profile politician to declare his bid following a similar announcement by Texas Senator Ted Cruz at the end of March.
In his announcement speech Paul promised to roll back the NSA surveillance instituted by section 215 of the Patriot Act and revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. He said: "As president on day 1, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance. Warrantless searches of America’s phones and computer records are un-American and a threat to our civil liberties. I say that the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business."
On the Iran deal, the senator demanded congressional oversight, while promising to “oppose any deal that does not end Iran’s nuclear ambitions and have strong verification measures." He added: "And I will insist that the final version will be brought before Congress."
He also rounded on President Obama and the administration's efforts to combat Islamic State militants. “Until we name the enemy we can’t win the war. The enemy is radical Islam, you can’t get around it. And not only will I win... I will do whatever it takes to protect the United States from these haters of mankind,” he said.
Before his appearance, a message appeared on the Paul website stating: "I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government." The younger Paul now faces the difficult task of corralling the nationwide network of hugely loyal Libertarians his father spent decades building while also engaging with the party establishment, the latter a feat the older Paul was never able to do.
Rand Paul has spent the past few months laying the groundwork for his 2016 campaign, visiting key states while offering a more nuanced tone on foreign policy, distancing himself from the ideologically inflexible non-interventionism of his father.
On the Islamic State Rand Paul has demanded Congress vote on whether to give President Obama the power to wage war against the militants in Syria and Iraq. Ron Paul remains steadfast that engaging the Islamists would be “foolish.” On drugs too, Rand has courted a more moderate line. Whereas Ron Paul pushed for the full legalisation of drugs, Rand Paul wants a steady process of decriminalisation, whilst advocating greater leniency towards non-violent drug users.
The senator concluded his announcement to cheers and chants of "President Paul, President Paul." He said: "Today I announce with God’s help, with the help of liberty lovers everywhere, that I am putting myself forward as a candidate for president of the United States of America.”
Whether Paul’s brand of moderate libertarianism can propel him to the White House depends on whether he can unite his party factions, from the younger voters concerned with liberty, to the establishment Republicans concerned with defense and business, to the GOP’s social and religious conservatives, for whom issues of gay marriage and abortion are sacrosanct. History says no, but in American politics absolutely anything is possible...
HuffPost Pollster has Paul falling behind several of his potential GOP rivals: