By Dylan Stableford
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul made it official Tuesday, announcing that he will run for president in 2016.
“I have a message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words,” the Republican told supporters in a fiery speech at the Galt House in downtown Louisville, hours after announcing his bid for the White House on his website. “We have come to take our country back.”
Speaking in front of a backdrop that read, “Defeat the Washington Machine — Unleash the American Dream,” Paul said he is running because he has a “different vision” for America, one that includes a return to privacy, opportunity and liberty — and a return to smaller government.
“The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives must be stopped,” Paul said. “Too often, when Republicans have won, we have squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. That’s not who I am.”
The tea party favorite and libertarian Republican candidate joined Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the second major figure to launch a campaign for the GOP nomination.
Painting himself as a rebellious outsider and contrarian within the Republican Party, Paul railed against career politicians, and suggested instituting term limits for members of Congress.
“Washington is horribly broken, I fear it cannot be fixed from within,” he said. “I’ve been to Washington, and let me tell you, there is no monopoly on knowledge.”
Paul said that “in order to restore America,” the GOP cannot “dilute our message or give up on our principles.”
“If we nominate a candidate who is simply Democrat lite, what’s the point? Why bother?” he said. “We need to boldly proclaim our vision for America. We need to go boldly forth under the banner of liberty that clutches the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other.”
The 52-year-old follows in the footsteps of his father, former Texas representative Ron Paul, who served nearly 40 years in the U.S. House and ran three unsuccessful bids for the presidency. The elder Paul joined his son onstage, but did not speak.
“This is the second most interesting father-son psychodrama in the presidential race,” Washington Post political reporter Karen Tumulty told Yahoo News in a special live report hosted by Global News Anchor Katie Couric. “On one hand, [Rand Paul] wants to draw distinctions [with Ron Paul], but on the other hand, tap into that energy his father was able to build during two presidential runs.”
But Paul faces an uphill battle for the GOP nomination. In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush led all potential Republican candidates, at 20 percent among likely Republican voters, with Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (12 percent) 8 points behind.
Paul ranks fourth at 9 percent.
According to Yahoo News’ Jon Ward, also a guest on the Yahoo News live report, Paul’s candidacy has some potential upside, particularly among millennial voters.
His 13-hour filibuster against the potential use of military drones against U.S. citizens in 2013 thrust Paul into the news cycle “to create this synergy of attention and momentum.”
Tuesday’s speech was designed to reignite that momentum.
“Today begins the journey to take back America, to rescue a great country, now adrift,” Paul said at the end of the hourlong speech. “If you love liberty, stand with me! If you want to defeat the Washington machine, stand with me! God bless you. God bless America.”