LOUISVILLE, Ky. (MEDIA GENERAL) – “We’ve come to take our country back.” And, with that, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) officially announced he is running for president. The first-term Kentucky senator made the announcement online followed by a midday rally in Louisville. Sen. Paul, 52, is not the first to enter the race nor will he be the last. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made his announced recently at the conservative Liberty University. Sen. Paul’s candidacy is much different than Sen. Cruz’. Here’s what you need to know:
He’s Not His Father
Sen. Rand Paul is forever linked with his father, Ron Paul who ran for the White House three times. The two men have clear similarities and differences. CNN reports Ron Paul has said he agrees with 99 percent of what his son believes. And, while the father may have paved the way for the son by creating a legion of fervent supports apart from the political party establishment, the son is taking a more moderate approach in many areas and may be attracting a wider base.
For example, CNN reports that Ron Paul wants to eliminate the National Security Agency. Rand Paul wants to reign it in. Ron Paul wants says it would be “foolish” to go to war with ISIS. Rand Paul has asked Congress to vote on a resolution to give the president power to fight ISIS, according to CNN. And, CNN reports, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Ron Paul warned sanctions against Russia would hurt the dollar while Rand Paul advocated for sanctions.
Trying to Broaden the Republican Party
“I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business,” said Sen. Paul. Rand Paul who speaks frequently on college campuses, attracting young voters. He highlights issues of privacy that speak to young people. He’s a Republican who opposes a federal ban on gay marriage, arguing states should decide for themselves. He says the Republican Party has room for people on both sides of the issue. He’s urged GOP leaders to focus less on gay marriage and abortion as a way to help the party grow.
Smaller Government and the Military
Sen. Paul hangs his hat on wanting smaller government and greater liberties. He favors a smaller U.S. military presence overseas and opposes domestic surveillance programs. Some GOP donors see him as too soft on the world stage. He started to rein in those tendencies with the approach of his campaign. Paul cited the rise of violence in the Middle East to call for a declaration of war against the Islamic State group, arguing Congress alone has the constitutional power to declare war. And in March he proposed an increase in military spending. He drew support from some on the left as well as the right with a nearly 13-hour Senate speech centered on his opposition to U.S. policy on the use of military drones.
Kentucky’s Common Core Standards Do Not Reflect Paul
Kentucky was the first state in the country to adopt the Common Core standards for English and math in 2010, the year Paul was first elected to the Senate. It’s a good thing state leaders did not ask Paul about it, because the Kentucky senator has since come out strongly against the standards as they’ve become a flashpoint in national politics. Paul says the standards represent a chipping away of local control of education, despite the fact each state must vote to adopt them.
Can Work Across the Isle
Criminal justice is an issue that largely sets Paul apart from the rest of the Republican field. He wants to restore voting rights to nonviolent convicted felons, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, end the federal sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine and make it easier for people to expunge their criminal records. He has partnered with Democrats on most of those issues, which might broaden his appeal nationally should he win the GOP nomination.
It is expected that Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will all announce bids for the Republican nomination to the White House.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)