Sen. Rand Paul (Republican)
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is a practicing ophthalmologist that specializes in corneal transplants, cataract and glaucoma surgeries and LASIK procedures.
The 52-year-old constitutional conservative has spent time during every senate recess performing pro-bono eye surgeries for low income Kentuckians and citizens of poor countries like Haiti. Even if he wins the presidency, Paul claims he will continue his practice and joked about turning the Lincoln room into a surgical suite.
It’s probably safe crown Paul as having one of the greatest political ads in a long time, courtesy of America’s Liberty PAC.
What’s up with the campaign?
Paul is probably the most libertarian candidate of the bunch. He’s all about citing the 10th Amendment, dreams of abolishing the IRS and wants to severely cut the defense budget and end the surveillance state. He’s also one of the only Republicans that seemingly has the backing of millennials.
He has all the ingredients of a solid Republican candidate, a true conservative that literally takes a chainsaw to the tax code and genuinely wants to dismantle the “Washington Machine.” Even liberals can appreciate his non-interventionist foreign policy agenda and acknowledging the threat of climate change.
However, the crowded GOP race hasn’t treated Paul nicely. He has struggled to make it to five percent in national polls, fighting for scraps with Carly Fiorina and Gov. Chris Christie.
Some point to Paul’s troubles being that libertarianism is an extreme minority in America’s political landscape, which would also explain his father’s performance when he ran for president. In a 2014 study, Pew Research found that only 11 percent of Americans identify as Libertarians and know what it is.
Conservatives say they want a smaller government, but that’s not what we see in the astonishing support for Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson who call for expanding surveillance programs and a further expansion of the government’s military footprint.
Paul’s attack on Sen. Marco Rubio for being “liberal on military spending” gets roaring applause from a Republican audience; aggressive military spending, however, creates an even bigger applause line.
It’s worth pointing out that if the White House doesn’t work out, he’s also running for reelection in Kentucky’s 2016 senate race.
Voters might like:
● Rand Paul is probably your best friend if you want marijuana legalization. He invokes the 10th Amendment and classic libertarian values regarding pot, saying the only victim is the individual and that the federal government shouldn’t have a role in controlling consumption. Paul wants less people in jail and shines a light on the victims of marijuana prohibition mostly being poor black males.
● One of last year’s biggest political stories was Paul’s 10-and-a-half-hour filibuster lambasting government surveillance programs. He had the backing of 10 other senators, seven of which were Democrats. This filibuster looked like a man defending the Fourth Amendment and fighting an overreaching government, perfectly encapsulating what this politician is all about.
● The U.S. spends more than the next 13 countries combined on its military. Paul wants to reduce the empire, bringing the troops home from not only the Middle East but Europe and the Pacific. This may be unpopular with hawks on both sides of the aisle, but this is an issue that can bring liberals and fiscal conservatives together.
...but watch out for:
● Paul’s defense spending agenda is also kind of weird. Last spring he called for swelling the Pentagon’s budget $76.5 billion, about a 16-percent increase in fiscal year 2016. It doesn’t help that the alleged isolationist announced his presidential bid in front of an aircraft carrier. This flip-flopping hurt the Kentucky senator with libertarians and those on the left that might have not minded a President Rand Paul. He was gearing up for a presidential run and we all know politicians often go against some of their ideas to liven their base, but going against the one thing that could have jettisoned the right and the left is odd.
● Like a lot of Republicans, Paul wants to eliminate the Department of Education. A move that’s likely impossible, and is consistent with his virtual absolutism that the federal government should play no role in your life. Considering millennial conservatives are one of Paul’s top supporters, they should be aware this is the bureaucracy that allots federal student loans and allocates federal resources to universities. The already little government support for schools is a large reason tuition is so high.
● Last summer, Paul proposed a 14.5-percent flat tax in a column for The Wall Street Journal. Most Americans agree the tax code needs simplified. However, there is a lot of skepticism from economists that say his plan would cost the country more than $1 trillion, some estimate as high as $15 trillion over the next decade.
Biggest policy proposal:
Last year, Paul reintroduced the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, or the REINS Act. In a nutshell, this would give Congress final say on any federal action that would cost more than $100 million annually.
This potentially takes a lot of power out of the executive branch and puts more accountability on state representatives.
Things change when someone gets into office, but Paul might be the least likely candidate to take the U.S. into another ground war, especially in the Republican field. He is strongly against using boots on the ground, but hasn’t made any clear stances on continuing President Obama’s air campaign. During the CNN debate Paul said, “There will always be another Clinton or Bush if you want to go back into Iraq.”
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