Rand Paul will formally launch his Republican campaign for the White House on Tuesday morning by asking supporters to help him “defeat the Washington machine and unleash the American dream.”
This anti-Washington theme is not surprising coming from someone who declared in his victory speech after being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010: “I have a message. A message from the tea party. A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We’ve come to take our government back.”
But while Paul will kick off his campaign by bashing the ways of Washington, the libertarian-Republican will have the backing of fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader and a card-carrying member of the so-called Republican establishment.
Paul and McConnell have a mutually-beneficial relationship: Paul helped McConnell beat back a viable Republican primary challenge in Kentucky last year by endorsing him. Now, McConnell is repaying the favor.
But don’t expect to see the Republican leader on the campaign trail stumping for Paul: McConnell is probably most helpful to Paul behind the scenes.
He supported Paul’s efforts to convince the Kentucky Republican Party to hold a presidential caucus in 2016 instead of a primary, allowing Paul to skirt a law preventing him from running for president and for re-election to the U.S. Senate at the same time.
And McConnell can also be helpful in other ways too: convincing big donors and establishment figures that might be skeptical of Paul’s brand of Republican politics that the junior Kentucky senator is sufficiently mainstream.
While Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who recently announced he is running for president, plans to run a campaign aimed at the conservative base, Paul is taking a different tract, hoping to appeal to a variety of voting blocs in a White House campaign.
Over the weekend, Paul previewed his announcement with a video, “A Different Kind Of Republican Leader.”
The video references his 2013 filibuster over the Obama administration’s policy on drones. It also references Paul’s visits over the last several years to places that are hardly reliable Republican constituencies: students at Berkeley, inner-city Detroit and historically black universities.
Paul is also expected to roll-out several endorsements from likeminded legislators in Congress, including Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Raul Labrador of Idaho and Mark Sanford of South Carolina, according to National Journal.
According to the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, Paul is trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, while tied with Cruz.
His father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, could be both an asset and a liability in a campaign. The elder Paul, who has a loyal network of followers, came in a close third-place in Iowa’s 2012 caucuses.
But Ron Paul’s views could cause issues for his son, who has recently taken more mainstream positions on national defense and security issues, for example.
Last year, Paul told The Daily Caller he isn’t going to answer for his father’s views, as some reporters have tried to get him to do.
“I’ve pretty much quit answering” those questions, he said. “I’ve been in the Senate three years, and I have created a record of myself,” Paul added. “And I have my opinions.”
After announcing his presidential campaign in Louisville at the Galt House Hotel on Tuesday morning, Paul plans to go on a “Stand with Rand” tour across early primary and caucus states.
Paul heads to Milford, New Hampshire for a rally on Wednesday, and then to Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina on Thursday for a campaign event on the U.S.S. Yorktown.
On Friday, the senator holds a rally with students at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, before flying out west for a campaign event on Saturday at a community center in Las Vegas.