Rand Paul, Kentucky Senator, announced his presidential run Tuesday morning on his website, shortly before attending his “Stand for Rand” rally where he spoke to a cheering crowd of supporters. From the time he entered the Senate in 2010, Paul has aroused a massive crowd of young conservative voters who have been looking for a different alternative to what the traditional Republican has had to offer. Promoting his brand of libertarianism, strong family values and civil liberties, while opposing the foreign-interventionist policies of his fellow Republicans and tea party members, the Kentucky Senator adds a fresh face to the party.
At the rally, held in Louisville, Kentucky, the mood was set by the famous Woodstock version of Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner. As the Galt House Ballroom filled up, a music video of the country singer John Rich’s song, Shuttin’ Detroit Down, was superimposed with a montage of Paul while the entourage of supporters for Paul’s candidacy entered the room. His wife, Kelly Ashby Paul, then came on and introduced her husband, hailing him as “brave,” and an inspiration to others.
In Paul’s 25-minute speech, he stressed his message of “liberty for all Americans,” to the excited crowd, and called for reforms, which would include setting term limits and introducing an amendment into the Constitution to balance the budget. He blamed the current political system, and both parties for the rise in debt, stating that under the Republicans it doubled, and under Obama it tripled. He called for reinvigorating hopes, and for creating more opportunity for young Americans. He called on the people to take the country back and “defeat the Washington Machine,” and also stated that the government needs to be “restrained,” and freedom “maximized.”
A diverse line-up of speakers were there to stand behind Paul. The group spanned different ends of the political spectrum, and included a wide variety of ethnic groups. Shown to the crowd were videos of his outreach to members of black communities and his speaking appearances at black colleges. Other videos showed him traveling to third world countries to perform eye exams and surgery to the inhabitants living there. Among the supporters present were former Representative Oklahoma, J.C. Watts who is African American, and Senator Ralph Alvarado, a Hispanic. Also present were pastor and former Democrat, Jerry Stephenson, who is also African American, and Lauren Bosler, a student from University of Kentucky.
Shortly after Paul announced his presidential run, several democrats weighed in on their views. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticized the newly announced candidate as a narrow-minded extremist who will end up sending the country backward toward old failed policies. She said he was nothing new to the Republican mainstream, and like the others, good for the wealthy few, and for the middle class he was bad.
Paul has also received criticism from Republican party members, who labeled him as an isolationist, a claim which the candidate has denied. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, also considering a bid for the White House, went further in stating that Paul’s foreign policy is even further to the left than that of Obama’s. Although Paul has considered himself to be less of an interventionist than his fellow party members, his foreign policy views, he stated, are more mainstream than that of his father Ron, who ran for President in 2012.
While his foreign policy has yet to be tested, especially with the case of Iran and ISIS, the mainstream generally is viewing him as a serious contender for the presidency, due to his opposition to government overspending, surveillance, and the unnecessary high cost of prison sentencing of Americans for drugs. Paul was the second GOP candidate to formally announce his Presidential run after Ted Cruz, whom he is narrowly trailing. Other GOP members expected to make a bid for 2016 include Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and a brother to former President George W. Bush.
By Bill Ades
Photo by Michael Vadon – Flickr License