Rand Paul 2016: Here's what you need to know about the Kentucky senator's bid for the US Presidency

 
Guy Bentley
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Rand Paul launches bid for 2016 (Source: Getty)

It's happening: Kentucky senator Rand Paul has officially launched his bid for the Presidency of the United States.

The libertarian-leaning Republican wrote on his website:

I am running for President to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government.

Paul will launch his campaign with a speech at the Galt hotel in Louisville, Kentucky at 5pm UK time today. After the speech, Paul will do a whistlestop tour of four early Presidential states to put his case to the voters.

In 2014, Time magazine named Paul the "most interesting man in American politics" and "a visionary determined to reinvent the conservative Republican story line".

Unlike his father, Paul has been at pains not to alienate the Republican base. While he does not share the radical libertarianism of his father, Texas congressman Ron Paul, he is challenging its establishment to embrace a different approach to foreign policy, reach out to poor and minority voters and accept wider social trends taking place across America.

Foreign policy hawks like senator John McCain have not taken kindly to Paul's efforts to drag the party away from its neoconservative tendencies, labelling senator Paul and others "wacko birds".

Paul is running on a platform of taking on the Washington establishment and widening the base of Republican party support. He gained national prominence after a 12 hour filibuster against the unaccountable use of drones.

A committed free marketeer, Paul is said to be planning to campaign on a 17 per cent flat tax. While not in favour of full drug legalisation, he has advocated criminal justice reform to stop minor drug users being imprisoned and insists states like Colorado which have legalised recreational marijuana should be allowed to experiment.

Unlike his father, he has not advocated abolishing the Federal Reserve, but suggests auditing it instead, along with the Pentagon. The man Ukip leader Nigel Farage dubbed his "political soulmate" cites novelist Ayn Rand and economist Friedrich Hayek as a few of the characters who have shaped his political views.

The Republican establishment bitterly opposed Paul's candidacy for the senate, but a wave of Tea Party and grass-roots support carried the him into office. The only other candidate to declare to far is Texas senator Ted Cruz. Both men are looking to capitalise on Tea Party support in what looks likely to be a crowded Republican field.

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