U.S. Senator Rand Paul has launched his presidential campaign for 2016 elections vowing to fight against the Washington establishment and for individual freedoms.
Announcing his candidacy in a downtown hotel ballroom in Louisville, Kentucky, with a crowd of more than 1500 people from all ages and backgrounds, the libertarian senator’s primary promise was to fix dysfunction in the Washington government.
Paul said "The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives must be stopped," addressing his cheerful supporters in his speech.
"Both parties and the entire political system are to blame," Paul said. "Too often, when Republicans have won, we've squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. That's not who I am."
Portraying himself as an “anti-establishment” candidate, Paul is hoping to appeal to a larger base than mainstream Republicans, especially young and minority voters, if he secures the Republican candidacy.
Paul presented himself as a candidate “for all Americans, whether you wear a suit, a uniform, overalls - whether you are white or black, rich or poor.”
Rand Paul is the second Republican who has announced he will be running for president in 2016, after Texas Senator Ted Cruz, though many other names are expected to announce their bid soon.
His father, Ron Paul, ran for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party three times but failed to secure it on each attempt as he was sidelined by mainstream members of his party because of his strict “libertarian stance,” despite having grassroots support.
The junior senator from Kentucky distinguishes himself from other possible nominees from his party with his liberal stance on drug laws, his request for oversight of national intelligence agencies and his questioning of U.S. military involvement abroad.
While his unorthodox stance on many salient policy issues may attract votes that any other Republican would fail to get, but it is also poses a challenge in securing the primary votes which will decide whether he will be able to run as his party’s candidate in the first place.
Many of his fellow Republicans are already criticizing Paul’s politics, especially his foreign policy stance, claiming it is dangerously misguided.
However, Paul is expected to soften his stance on some issues as he has been trying to reach out recently to attract more mainstream support. A March Reuters/Ipsos poll showed him behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Republican politicians who are also expected to announce presidential bids.
In his four years in the U.S. senate Paul has been an advocate of fiscal conservatism and small government, as well as protection of personal privacy and a strict interpretation of constitution.
His nearly 13 hour filibuster which delayed nomination of John Brennan as CIA director in 2013, as well as his questioning of the use of drones by the Obama administration, brought him to the spotlight and drew support from many parts of political spectrum including those which normally oppose Republican politicians.
His proposal to increase defense spending during budget talks last month may be seen as a move to build bridges with the party’s hawkish wing, but he maintained his non-interventionist stance in foreign policy, saying he envisions a national defense "unparalleled, undefeatable and unencumbered by overseas nation-building," during his speech where he announced he is running for president.
He also repeated his opposition to government surveillance programs saying “As president, on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance,” referring to the U.S. government’s phone data collection program.
U.S. presidential elections will be held to elect the 45th president of the country on the first Tuesday of November 2016 as President Obama comes to the end of his second four year term and is not constitutionally allowed to run for a third term.