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The 2016 presidential campaign of Rand Paul, the junior United States Senator from Kentucky, was announced on April 7, 2015 at an event at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. First elected to the U.S. Senate in the 2010, Paul’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2016 has been widely speculated since early 2013.
Leading up to his formal announcement, Paul delivered several high profile speeches, which included filibustering the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan, speeches at Berkeley and Howard University, and meeting with community leaders in Ferguson, Missouri and Detroit, Michigan, in what has been described as an attempt to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal with non-traditional constituencies.
Rand Paul first acknowledged a possible 2016 Presidential candidacy in January 2013. On February 13, 2013, Paul delivered the Tea Party response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, prompting some pundits to consider him a potential candidate in the upcoming presidential election. On March 67, 2013, Paul engaged in a filibuster to delay voting on the nomination of John O. Brennan as the Director of the CIA. Paul questioned the Obama administration’s use of drones and the stated legal justification for their potential use within the United States. Paul held the floor for 12 hours and 52 minutes. Following his filibuster, Paul spoke at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C., where he won the presidential straw poll with 25% of the votes cast. Paul again spoke at CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland on March 7, 2014. The day after his speech, he won the presidential straw poll for the second year in a row with 31% of the votes cast, nearly triple the percentage of runner-up U.S. Senator Ted Cruz with 11%.
In April 2014, Paul spoke at the GOP Freedom Summit, an event organized by Americans for Prosperity and Citizens United, which was also attended by several other potential presidential candidates. In his speech, he insisted that the GOP has to broaden its appeal in order to grow as a party. To do so, he said it cannot be the party of “fat cats, rich people and Wall Street” and that the conservative movement has never been about rich people or privilege, “we are the middle class”, he said. Paul also said that conservatives must present a message of justice and concern for the unemployed and be against government surveillance to attract new people to the movement, including young people, and Hispanic and African Americans.
Leading up to his decision about running for President, Paul visited several historically black colleges, including Howard University, Bowie State University, and Simmons College. In addition, he visited Ferguson, Missouri, and also spoke at the Detroit Economic Club. During his remarks, Paul highlighted his efforts to improve the criminal justice system by reforming mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and restoring voting rights of individuals with non-violent felonies, which Paul believes disproportionately affects the African American and Hispanic communities. Paul also introduced his plan to create “economic freedom zones” which would help areas of high unemployment, such as Louisville or Detroit, to reduce federal regulation and taxes to boost economic growth. Paul received praise for his efforts from Lorraine Miller, acting President of the NAACP, and he also sponsored legislation with Democratic U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand to improve the criminal justice system for young men and women in a “cycle of poverty and incarceration.” Analysts have considered this effort by Paul an attempt to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party brand to non-traditional constituencies, which Paul believes is an important point for Republicans to consider in any national election going forward. Paul’s outreach to minority communities seems to be working, as polls show him receiving up to 29% of the African-American vote in his home state. This is significant, as John McCain received just 4% of the African-American vote in 2008 and Mitt Romney took just 6% in 2012.
In April 2011, Paul filed to run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2016, but if he does become the Republican presidential (or vice presidential) nominee, state law prohibits him from simultaneously running for re-election. In March 2014, the Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate passed a bill that would allow Paul to run for both offices, but the Democratic-controlled Kentucky House of Representatives declined to take it up. Paul spent his own campaign money in the 2014 legislative elections, helping Republican candidates for the State House in the hopes of flipping the chamber, thus allowing the legislature to pass the bill (Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s veto can be overridden with a simple majority). However, the Democrats retained their 5446 majority in the State House. Paul in turn gave his support to the idea that the Kentucky Republican Party could decide to hold a caucus rather than a primary, which the party has agreed to do.
In addition to his own political prospects, in the lead up to the 2014 midterm elections, Paul made a point to campaign for several Senate and Congressional candidates, including Joni Ernst and Rod Blum in Iowa, former U.S. Senator Scott Brown in New Hampshire, David Perdue in Georgia, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Pat Roberts in Kansas. Paul facilitated these endorsements through his political action committee known as Rand PAC, which was able to provide funds for candidates that Paul had endorsed, as well as provide volunteer support, and air television and radio commercials in support of certain candidates. Because of Paul’s appeal to younger voters and “grassroots energy,” a majority of Republican campaign operatives, according to Politico, selected Paul as their top choice as a campaign surrogate. After the election, Paul launched a social media campaign titled “Hillary’s Losers” which was meant to highlight many of the Democratic candidates who lost their bids for the U.S. Senate despite endorsements from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Out of the nearly 20 endorsements that Paul offered in the 2014 midterm election, only three candidates were unsuccessful in their campaigns for office. In contrast, more than half of Clinton’s endorsements were unsuccessful, but many political analysts regarded the 2014 midterm elections as a wave election year for Republicans.
Near the end of 2014, Paul made moves towards a presidential run, including hiring staff in several states, setting up offices, and hiring a campaign manager. In January 2015, Rand Paul gained the support of Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, a move seen as crucial in taking on potential rivals Governor Rick Perry and Senator Ted Cruz, both with deep ties to Texas. Paul hired a digital strategist who previously worked on the Senate campaign for Ted Cruz, Vincent Harris, and a campaign manager, Chip Englander, who led businessman Bruce Rauner’s successful campaign for Governor in Illinois. Longtime Paul advisor Doug Stafford will stay on as a senior political advisor to the Paul campaign. Campaign operations have also begun in many of the early states, with the hiring of Steve Grubbs, a former Chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, to run Paul’s potential Iowa campaign, Michael Biundo, formerly campaign manager for Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential bid, in New Hampshire, Chris LaCivita, who advised Senator Pat Roberts and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in his gubernatorial bid, in South Carolina, and John Yob, a campaign operative, based in Michigan. Through his political action committee, known as Reinventing A New Direction (RAND) PAC, Paul toured many states seen as important in gathering both votes and fundraising dollars.
After former Governor Mitt Romney announced that he would not seek a third presidential bid, political analyst Mark Halperin made a statement that he thought that Paul was the new frontrunner in the New Hampshire primary if it were to be held then. Polling throughout 2014, both nationally and in statewide contests, has consistently placed Paul among the top tier of candidates potentially seeking the Republican Party’s nomination in the 2016 presidential election.
Ron Paul Applause Gets Blacked Out By CNN
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest addresses Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to speak before Congress in March. CNN Glitches On Purpo…
By: Get News
Ron Paul Applause Gets Blacked Out By CNN – Video
Grimes: Paul can't run for Senate and president at the same time
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes intends to fight Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., if he chooses to run for Senate and the presidency at the same time.
By: The Washington Examiner
Ron Paul: Who Wants to be Defense Secretary?
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Ron Paul: Who Wants to be Defense Secretary? – Video
Ron Paul: Minding our own business would be best for America
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By: RT America
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(RawStory) Democratic strategist Robertson Zimmerman on Wednesday discounted Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) latest attack on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by pointing out that the libertaria…
Jim Baker: The GOP brand doesn't suck
Former Secretary of State James Baker responds to Senator Rand Paul's claim that the “GOP branding sucks:
Sen. Paul Questions Sec. Kerry on ISIS Strategy- September 17, 2014
Sen. Rand Paul questions Secretary of State John Kerry on U.S. ISIS strategy at SFRC hearing.
Newsmax: The Huff Post's Howard Fineman Discusses Rand Paul and the Kentucky Senate Race
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Senator Rand Paul Unplugged On Clinton Benghazi
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be disqualified from a presidential run because of the Benghazi incident. The Post …
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Senator Rand Paul Unplugged On Clinton Benghazi – Video