LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced his campaign for president of the United States here on Tuesday, laying out a vision for the country that is drastically different than the path the political class in Washington has America on.
“I have a message,” Paul opened his nearly 30-minute announcement speech.
A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We’ve come to take our country back. We’ve come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank. The special interests that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare. The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives—must be stopped.
Paul, who was introduced before his speech by his wife and a series of high-profile speakers from the Kentucky community, explained he made those same points when he was running for the U.S. Senate as a Tea Party outsider back in 2010.
“I wasn’t supposed to win [the Senate race]. No one thought I would. Some people asked me then — why are you running?” Paul said. “The answer is the same now as it was then. I have a vision for America. I want to be part of a return to prosperity. A true economic boom that lifts all Americans. A return to a government restrained by the Constitution.”
Throughout the speech, Paul hammered establishment Republicans and Democrats alike and laid out that he has never aimed to become a part of the Washington establishment.
“Too often when Republicans have won, we have squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine,” Paul said. “That’s not who I am. That’s not why I ran for office the first time, just a few years ago. The truth is, I loved my life as a small town doctor. Every day when I woke up, I felt lucky to be able to do the things I loved. More importantly, I was blessed to be able to do things that made a difference in people’s lives.”
Paul gave a shout out to his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)—who ran for president three time unsuccessfully—who was in the audience of several hundred present here in Louisville for his speech.
“I never could have done any of this without the help of my parents who are here today,” Paul said, before asking the audience to join him in thanking his mom and dad—sparking uproarious applause.
“With my parents help, I was able to make it through long years of medical training to finally become an eye surgeon,” Paul said.
For me, there is nothing that compares with helping someone see better. Last August, I was privileged to travel to Guatemala on a medical mission trip, and together with a team of surgeons from across the U.S., we operated on more than two hundred people who were blind or nearly blind from cataracts. I was grateful to be able to put on my scrubs, peer into the oculars of the microscope, and focus on the task at hand – to take a surgical approach to fix a problem.
Paul spent several minutes detailing the meta narrative theme behind his medical mission trip to Guatemala last year, which Breitbart News and several other media outlets accompanied him on.
One day, in Guatemala, a man arrived and told me that I had operated on his wife the day before,” Paul said. “His wife could see clearly for the first time in years and she had begged him to get on the bus with her and travel the winding mountain roads back to our temporary surgery center.
He too, was nearly blind from hardened cataracts. After his surgery the next day, his wife sat beside me as I unveiled the patch from his eyes. It was a powerful, emotional moment for me to see them looking at each other clearly for the first time in years. To see the face they loved again. As I saw the joy on their eyes, I thought: this is why I became a doctor.
Paul laid out how he has been “fortunate” because he has been “able to enjoy the American Dream.” But he does “worry, though, that opportunity and hope are slipping away for our sons and daughters.”
“As I watch our once great economy collapse under mounting spending and debt, I think, what kind of America will our grandchildren see?” Paul said.
It seems to me that both parties and the entire political system are to blame. Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration and it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch. President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous Presidents combined. We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security. We can wake up now and do the right thing—quit spending money we don’t have.
Paul then laid out how his message of conservatism applies to all people—but how Republicans and conservatives can’t give up on their core principles.
“This message of liberty is for Americans from all walks of life,” Paul said. “The message of liberty, opportunity and justice is for all Americans, whether you wear a suit, a uniform or overalls, whether you’re white or black, rich or poor. In order to restore America..one thing is for certain though: We cannot, we must not, dilute our message or give up on our principles.”
The crowd roared in applause.
“If we nominate a candidate who is simply Democrat-light, what’s the point? Why bother?” Paul said. “We need to boldly proclaim our vision for America. We need to go boldly forth under the banner of liberty that clutches the Constitution in one hand, and the Bill of Rights in the other.”
The audience broke into loud cheers again.
“Washington is horribly broken,” Paul said. “I fear it cannot be fixed from within. We, the people, must rise up and demand action. Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so. Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a Constitutional Amendment.”
Paul pushed for term limits for members of Congress, and for measures designed to force Congress to read bills before voting on them.
“I ran for office because we have too many career politicians,” Paul said. “I believe it now more than ever. We limit the President to two terms. It’s about time we limit the terms of Congress.”
Paul hit several other major themes throughout his speech, including how Capitalism beat Communism and how work provides Americans with self esteem.
“From an early age, I worked,” Paul said.
I taught swimming lessons. I mowed lawns. I did landscaping. I put roofs on houses. I painted houses. I never saw work, though, as punishment. Work always gave me a sense of who I am. Self-esteem can’t be given, it must be earned. Work is not punishment. Work is the reward. Two of my sons work minimum wage jobs while they go to college.
I am proud of them as I see them realize the value of hard work. I can see their self-esteem grow as they cash their paychecks. I have a vision for America where everyone who wants to work will have a job. Many Americans, though, are being left behind. The reward of work seems beyond their grasp. Under the watch of both parties – the poor seem to get poorer and the rich get richer.
Paul then laid out his limited government plan to revive America’s economy.
“Trillion dollar government stimulus packages have only widened the income gap,” Paul said.
Politically connected cronies get taxpayer dollars by the hundreds of millions, and poor families across America continue to suffer. I have a different vision. An ambitious vision. A vision that will offer opportunity to all Americans, especially those who have been left behind. My plan includes, Economic Freedom Zones to allow impoverished areas like Detroit, West Louisville, and Eastern Kentucky to prosper by leaving more money in the pockets of the people who live there.
After pushing for school choice, Paul then shifted into foreign policy and pushing for a strong national defense to protect America.
“In my vision for America, freedom and prosperity at home can only be achieved if we defend against enemies who are dead-set on attacking us,” Paul said.
Without question, we must defend ourselves and American interests from our enemies. But until we name the enemy, we can’t win the war. The enemy is Radical Islam—we can’t get around it—and not only will I name the enemy but I will do whatever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind. We need a National Defense robust enough to defend against all attack, modern enough to deter all enemies, and nimble enough to defend our vital interests. But we also need a foreign policy that protects American interests and encourages stability—not chaos.
Paul laid out how he believes conservatives who understand government is “inept at home” should understand that it is similarly inept abroad and won’t be able to build nations overseas.
“I envision an America with a National Defense unparalleled, undefeatable, and unencumbered by overseas nation building,” Paul said.
I envision a National Defense that promotes, as Reagan put it, ‘Peace through Strength.’ I believe in applying Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign policy to the Iran issue. Successful negotiations with untrustworthy adversaries are only achieved from a position of strength. We brought Iran to the table from strength, through sanctions I voted for. Now we must stay strong. That’s why I co-sponsored legislation that insures that any deal between the US and Iran must be approved by Congress.
The crowd went wild.
“I will oppose any deal that does not end Iran’s nuclear ambitions and have strong verification measures,” Paul added.
Paul hammered foreign aid to countries that hate America, too.
“It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting death to America in countries that receive millions of dollars in our foreign aid,” Paul said. “I say it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America!”
Paul wrapped his speech by hammering the National Security Agency (NSA) and IRS for intruding into people’s private lives with an overreaching federal government.
“Warrantless searches of America’s phones and computer records are un-American and a threat to our civil liberties,” Paul said. “I say, that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business. The President created this vast dragnet by Executive Order. And as President on day one I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.”
The crowd went wild again.
“Today begins the journey to take America back,” Paul ended his speech. “To rescue a great country, now adrift, join me as together we seek a new vision for America. 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.”
The crowd cheers were deafening inside the Galt House Hotel ballroom here in Louisville.