Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday formally announced his intention to run for the White House in 2016, telling a crowd of supporters gathered in Louisville: “If you love liberty, stand with me!”
“Today begins the journey to take back America, to rescue a great country, now adrift,” the libertarian-leaning Republican said in his speech at the Galt House Hotel. “If you love liberty, stand with me! If you want to defeat the Washington machine, stand with me!”
Paul first made it official Tuesday by posting on his website: “I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government.”
The presidential candidate will now embark on a “Stand with Rand” tour across early primary and caucus states.
He 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.
Paul is the second major candidate to officially enter the race. The other person, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, welcomed Paul into the contest in a Tuesday statement.
“Rand is a good friend, and we have worked side by side on many issues. I respect his talent, his passion, and the work he has done for Kentuckians and Americans in the U.S. Senate,” Cruz said. “His entry into the race will no doubt raise the bar of competition, help make us all stronger, and ultimately ensure that the GOP nominee is equipped to beat Hillary Clinton and to take back the White House for Republicans in 2016.”
In his speech, Paul called for taking “our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank.”
“The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives — must be stopped,” he said.
He also railed against wasteful government spending. “Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration and is now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch,” Paul said. “President Obama is on course to add more debt than all the previous Presidents in history, combined. We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security.”
Paul also called for a balanced budget amendment and for term limits in Congress. Speaking of radical Islam, he vowed to “do what ever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind.”
“We need a national defense robust enough to defend against all attack, modern enough to deter all enemies, and nimble enough to defend our vital interests,” Paul said. “But we also need a foreign policy that protects American interests and encourages stability — not chaos.”
In a news release, Paul’s campaign said of the announcement: “During his time in office, Rand Paul has vehemently fought to protect our Constitution, individual liberties, and the freedoms in which our country was founded upon. Rand Paul has taken his message of individual freedom across the United States in the hopes of making the Republican Party bigger, better, and bolder. Time and time again, Rand Paul has proved that he is a different kind of Republican– one who can defeat the Washington Machine and unleash the American Dream.”