Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul formally announced his candidacy for president in a post on his website Tuesday morning, following up on a video published Sunday that promised he will be a "different kind of Republican,"and revealing his campaign slogan: "Defeat the Washington Machine. Unleash the American Dream."
"I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government," reads a pull quote from the senator on his website. In subsequent references on the site, Paul is referred to as "Dr. Rand Paul," claiming the opthalmologist is "an outspoken champion for constitutional liberties and fiscal responsibility." The Kentucky Republican, first elected to Congress in 2010, is also "a fierce advocate against government overreach … [fighting] tirelessly to return government to its limited, constitutional scope," according to the site.
Paul becomes the second Republican to formally announce his bid for the White House in 2016, after a fellow Tea Party darling, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, launched his campaign at the right-wing Liberty University last month.
For his part, Paul plans to run as "a different kind of Republican," reports Politico. An email sent to supporters explained that Paul is running for president "because I want to defeat the Washington machine." That tone is one that should sound familiar to those who supported Paul's father, Ron, in his unsuccessful three runs for president. Both the elder and younger Paul profess to lean libertarian — though Rand Paul has recently tweeted that he is "Libertarianish. [With] a foot in both camps," notes Politico.
A flashy campaign video published Sunday promised that "On April 7, one leader will stand up to defeat the Washington machine and unleash the American dream."
But when it comes to issues affecting LGBT Americans, the Kentucky senator tracks closely with his Republican colleagues. Earlier this year, at a private prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C., Paul told a group of pastors and evangelical leaders that the spread of marriage equality is a signal of an ongoing "moral crisis" in America. Last month Paul told Fox News that he might support some legal form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, but that such unions shouldn't be called marriage. Using the word "marriage" to describe committed partnerships between two consenting adults of the same sex "offends myself and a lot of people," Paul said.
Paul is also the only potential GOP presidential candidate who has yet to offer an opinion on Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, notes the Human Rights Campaign. Nearly every other Republican eyeing the party's nomination for 2016 weighed in during the height of the controversy late last month, unilaterally backing the far-reaching bill Gov. Mike Pence originally signed into law. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also thought to be considering a run for president in 2016, vaguely endorsed the so-called license to discriminate bill earlier this month.
"Given that he has opposed [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], which would give LGBT workers express protection against discrimination in the workplace, Rand Paul needs to join the rest of the candidates and say whether he agrees that Mike Pence did the right thing when he signed a bill in Indiana that put LGBT Hoosiers at risk for discrimination," said JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president for policy and political affairs in a statement Tuesday.
In fact, "when you hear him opine on issues coveted by the religious right, [Rand Paul] falls squarely in their camp every time," wrote Crooks & Liars blogger John Amato last month.