Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul formally announced his presidential campaign Tuesday, and notably failed to mention a top target of GOP hopefuls: Obamacare.
Paul has been vaunting his health care know-how while prepping his campaign, emphasizing his career as an ophthalmologist before running for office for the first time in 2010. (RELATED: Rand Paul Formally Announces 2016 Run: ‘If You Love Liberty, Stand With Me!’)
But Paul overlooked the health-care law while listing a number of hot-button issues in his speech. In contrast, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the only other Republican to formally declare a 2016 campaign, took the time in his announcement last month to call for repealing “every word” of Obamacare. Cruz has made a name for himself by filibustering Obamacare funding for over 21 hours in 2013. (RELATED: Ted Cruz Announces 2016 Run: ‘Imagine’ A Conservative President)
Kentucky, Paul’s home state and the locale of his speech, has a complicated relationship with the health-care law. It’s one of the few GOP strongholds that created its own Obamacare exchange instead of leaving it to the federal government and the only Southern state to also expand Medicaid. While Kentucky’s uninsured rate has dropped, largely due to the vast Medicaid expansion, the law remains unpopular in the state.
The senator has consistently called for Obamacare’s repeal, however, and features his opposition to the law on his campaign website.
“As your President, one of my first acts would be to repeal the abomination that is Obamacare,” Paul writes. “Government interventions in health care have driven up the cost of coverage and decreased competition within the market…As your President, I will ensure that real free-market principles are applied to the American health-care system so that it is responsive to patients, families, and doctors, rather than government bureaucracy.”
But Paul evidently didn’t want to make the health-care law a mainstay of his announcement. Other policies, though — reform of NSA surveillance, the threat from Islamic extremism, criminal justice reform — made it into the speech and drew significant applause from the audience. The libertarian-leaning Republican has tried to reach out to younger and more liberal parts of the party, all while maintaining the support of a conservative base. (RELATED: Rand Paul Vows To ‘Defeat The Washington Machine,’ With Mitch McConnell’s Help)