LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is getting set to kick off his presidential campaign here with a speech on Tuesday morning at the Galt House Hotel. After that, Paul will travel to four different early presidential states for a campaign tour.
The first stop is New Hampshire, then South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada. Putting together such an extraordinary trip takes a serious and organized campaign team. By comparison, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) went to New York City for Sean Hannity’s Fox News broadcast after his announcement then went to New Hampshire later in the week, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is expected to do just one other early state after announcing in Miami next week. After Paul’s speech here on Tuesday, the senator will conduct a series of interviews including an hour-long special with Hannity.
From Kentucky, Paul will head to New Hampshire for a rally in Milford on Wednesday then down to South Carolina for a Charleston event on Thursday. On Friday, Paul will be in Iowa City, Iowa, then will appear on Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Paul’s team boasts immediate past Texas Republican Party chairman Steve Munisteri, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s 2012 winning campaign manager Chip Englander, communications and media whiz Sergio Gor, senior adviser Doug Stafford—who’s been by his side for years—and an army of grassroots supporters and national campaign operatives some from the organizational structure of his dad, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and his presidential campaigns.
In his presidential campaign launch tease video, Paul’s team presents him as a “different kind of Republican leader.”
Time Magazine called him the most interesting man in American politics, writing in late 2014 that Paul is a “visionary determined to reinvent the conservative Republican story line.”
He’s won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll for three years in a row, and has no problem speaking to predominantly liberal audiences at black universities such as Bowie State University or Howard University or at leftist bastions including Berkeley or South By Southwest. He’s also pushed for what he calls “Economic Freedom Zones” in Detroit, where big government and liberal policies have severely hurt people economically. His zones—similar to Jack Kemp’s type of policies for inner cities—would cut government intervention down to a bare minimum in those places to rejuvenate them with the money they already have in the community.
His goal is to expand the Republican Party’s reach, without losing sight of the base principles of limited government conservatism. In a recent interview with Breitbart News where he ripped Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and top pick of the GOP establishment, Paul said that it’s important that the base be excited about someone while still being palatable to the rest of the country.
“What you need, I think, is someone who has the ability to excite the Republican base and expand the party,” Paul said, noting that Bush has an electability problem since the GOP base will never support him in the general election.
You can’t have someone who is so moderate that they think they can get the moderate vote but can’t excite the Republican base. I think that is the biggest obstacle he has to overcome, is that being a moderate in a conservative party is difficult. When you refer to conservatives in the third person, as he did recently, that makes it even more difficult I think to connect with conservatives. When the first person you call when you decide to run is Hillary Clinton, that doesn’t really endear you to the grassroots.
An ophthalmologist, Paul traveled last year to Guatemala to perform a charity medical mission where he and other doctors removed cataracts.
“It’s a lot different in the sense that here we see a problem and fix it,” Paul said in an interview with Breitbart News in Salama, Guatemala, about the differences between the medical profession and politics.
Since first winning election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, beating out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked Trey Grayson for the GOP nomination then winning in the general election, Paul has been a force for grassroots conservatism and has never shied away from a battle against either party on Capitol Hill. He led a 13-hour filibuster against drones that forced President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, to admit the federal government doesn’t have the authority to strike an American citizen on U.S. soil with a drone. He’s also fought and won multiple times against gun control, and several other liberal policies including the left’s push for more regulation.
Paul, unlike his father former Rep. Ron Paul, has pushed for a strong national defense, increased defense spending, and on occasion more intervention around the world. Whenever he does push for U.S. intervention, however, he has specific reasons for doing so—something in previous interviews with Breitbart News he has characterized as “smart interventionism.”
Paul has also been the fiercest critic in Washington of government surveillance of U.S. citizens through the National Security Agency (NSA), and seemingly makes the case wherever he goes that the federal government shouldn’t be digging through people’s cell phones.
Along those similar lines, Paul is a strict constitutionalist and believes that any president regardless of party and regardless of the issue should follow the framework the founding fathers laid out for elected leaders rather than operating outside the purview of the system. That means he doesn’t support all the times that President Obama has sidestepped Congress for executive orders and actions, but he also believes that the courts need to play their role in terms of issuing warrants for who is being targeted.
His campaign operation, which is pretty much already fully functional nationwide and has been for months as a campaign-in-waiting, is much more sophisticated than his father’s campaigns ever were. He has a technology team building a social media apparatus based out of Austin, Texas, and bare knuckles grassroots activists in place in key states—and pretty much every state for that matter—coast to coast already.
A libertarian-leaning conservative, Paul doesn’t fully toe the line of libertarianism but walks a fine line between the two communities and has built an interesting coalition he refers to as the “leave me alone” coalition. Because of this unique place between where his father’s base was, and where the conservative world is, Paul may just have what it takes to become what his supporters at CPAC aggressively and loudly chanted for him on stage: “President Paul.”