“I am running for President to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” he said on www.randpaul.com.
Yesterday’s announcement makes Paul the second major Republican figure to announce a presidential bid for 2016, after Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. A crowded field is expected, and candidates will be competing hard for diverse constituencies – from the so-called bible belt to Wall Street Republicans.
On many issues, Paul does not differ from mainstream Republicans. He opposes Obamacare and abortion, and favours cutting taxes and spending. But his criticism of the Federal Reserve has given many in the party’s business-friendly wing the jitters, and his plan to balance the federal budget by 2020 was off-putting for some, even by the standards of his anti-spending party.
Paul, the son of staunch libertarian Texan congressman Ron Paul, decided to run for an open US Senate seat in Kentucky in 2009. He became one of the best-known faces of the Tea Party movement when he upset a favoured candidate in the Republican primary a year later and went on to win the seat.
And again, this time around Paul starts his campaign from behind, in the second tier of Republican candidates, drawing the support of 8.4 per cent of Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll.
That puts him behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who is considered a top contender among Republicans, although he has not declared himself a Presidential candidate yet; Wisconsin governor Scott Walker; and former Arkansas governor and Fox News Channel star Mike Huckabee. Paul is in a statistical tie with four other candidates – Cruz, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
For the Democrats, the frontrunner former New York senator Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her Presidential bid for 2016 shortly.