Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, elected in 2010 in a mid-term cycle that decimated Democrats, announced his candidacy for president Tuesday, making him the second Republican next to his colleague in the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas, to do so.
In his announcement from Louisville, Sen. Paul constructed a speech built on nearly all the red-meat lines Tea Party activists have relied on since the anti-Obama movement rose up as a viable political force five years ago following the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Paul: “Take Our Country Back’
“I have a message that is loud and clear and doesn’t mince words. We have come to take our country back,” he said to the crowd that included his father, Ron Paul, who tried but failed several times to light the nation’s fire for him. Mr. Paul said he’s running against Washington, where he said special interests are entrenched and use it as their piggy bank. “The Washington machine must be stopped,” he said, adding that his vision for American will return America to prosperity. He said he’ll have the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other, while balancing liberty and privacy.
Hewing to the standard talking points of Republicans in general and Tea Party loyalists in particular, the 52-year old eye surgeon said government should be restrained by the Constitution and said fiscal discipline should be imposed on Congress through a balanced budget amendment. Paul had no reason to mention Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been stumping of late to be president and who is also out talking up just such an amendment.
The Republican-turned-Libertarian politico blamed Republicans for squandering victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. “That’s not who I am,” he said. He pointed to too much spending and debt as reasons the economy crashed back in 2007, attributing it to both parties and the entire political system. The first-term senator pitched the all too familiar line Tea Party fans and followers love to hear, “Quit spending money we don’t have.”
Claiming that generic Washington is broken, he called on people to “rise up and demand action” as he also called for term limits on DC lawmakers. He said capitalism won out of incompetent socialism during the Reagan years, when The Great Communicator outspent the former Soviet Union, which has sense broken up into regional states. “Work is not punishment…it’s the reward,” he said, noting self esteem must be earned. Offering little detail, Sen. Paul said he wants to create “economic freedom zones” where jobs that pay well will be created. He pushed his idea to reduce taxes on the overseas profits of American companies, which he pegged at about $2 trillion. He claimed liberal policies have failed the nation’s inner cities, and that justice opportunity and freedom and school choice are his remedies. “Let’s just spend what comes in,” he said to great applause.
On foreign policy, he said American can’t win a war unless it knows its enemy’s name. “Radical Islam,” is that name he said, adding, “We can’t get around it. I will defend against these haters of mankind.” As President Obama moves forward toward a final negotiated deal with Iran, Sen. Paul demanded the “deal must be approved by Congress.” He said President Obama is negotiating from weakness and said America’s strength is not from “borrowing from China to give to Pakistan.” He decried chants against America from citizens of countries that take foreign aid from America. “Not one penny more to these haters of America,” he said. On his first day as President, Sen. Paul said he will end unconstitutional surveillance via warrantless searches.