Republican Rand Paul Launches 2016 Presidential Campaign

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul became the second major Republican presidential contender to enter the 2016 primary race when he announced his candidacy Tuesday in Louisville.

Paul hopes to build on his support among libertarian and Tea Party activists to become a force in what promises to be a lengthy and potentially divisive battle for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination next year.

Paul is a first-term senator who was elected in 2010 with Tea Party support, and who has blazed his own trail in the Senate ever since.  He solidified a national following during a 2013 Senate filibuster with a nearly 13-hour speech critical of the Obama administration’s use of drones to target suspected terrorists abroad.

Paul will get a lot of scrutiny on his foreign policy views.  In the past, he has echoed his father in arguing against foreign military entanglements and endless war.  Paul has modified his stance a bit in recent months by offering support for the U.S. airstrikes targeting the so-called Islamic State in Iraq.

But given the renewed focus on national security and countering terrorism abroad, Paul will need to reassure conservatives he is willing to use U.S. military force where needed, said Ford O’Connell, Republican strategist and conservative activist.

“The number one thing dogging Rand Paul right now is the fact that for American voters, unlike in previous presidential elections, national security is going to be right up there in the top two or three issues, and his libertarian stance is something that Rand Paul is going to have to overcome.  He’s going to have to prove to folks that he is a reluctant warrior, not an isolationist.”

Rand Paul can depend on a base of support from libertarian and Tea Party activists, but must find a way to broaden his appeal throughout the party. “He has a very, very strong following.  It is very deep but it is not very wide and that is going to be his biggest thing,” said O’Connell, a veteran of the McCain presidential campaign in 2008.

Read more from Jim Malone at Voice of America 

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