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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced his bid for the White House Tuesday on his website. The 52-year-old former ophthalmologist's libertarian roots sets him apart from the expansive field of Republican hopefuls, most notably in foreign policy and issues like defense spending.

His father Ron Paul, also a physician, gained notoriety in the late-1980s as a presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, but there are signs the younger Paul is moving more mainstream Republican.

Paul's Kentucky Announcement a Nod to Dual Campaigns

Apr 7, 2015
WKU PBS

Rand Paul's decision to announce his presidential campaign in Kentucky highlights his decision to also run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

Paul chose to announce his candidacy not in an early primary state or even his hometown of Bowling Green. He chose Louisville, the largest media market in a state that only has eight electoral votes, is reliably Republican in federal elections and is not a factor in the chaotic presidential primaries.

Western Kentucky University political science professor Scott Lasley said Paul's campaign will often keep him out of state and his event in Louisville helps him emphasize Kentucky. A spokesman for Paul's campaign said the decision to announce in Kentucky was to honor the friends and family who helped him get to this point.

Kicking off his presidential campaign in Louisville, Senator Rand Paul told supporters that "we've come to take our country back." 

The Bowling Green Republican Tuesday formally declared his White House bid.  A tea party favorite and frequent contrarian against his party's establishment, Paul is promising to continue his approach to politics. 

During his speech, Paul pledged to scrap "the Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms." He said his message of liberty is for all Americans.

“Whether you wear a suit, a uniform or overalls. Whether you’re white or black or rich or poor," Paul insisted.  "In order to restore America, one thing is for certain, though: we cannot, we must not dilute our message or give up on our principles.”

Paul becomes just the second major candidate to declare a presidential bid, but he could face as many as 20 rivals for the GOP nomination.  Each is trying to win the right to go head-to-head with Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has made it official.  Hours before a planned announcement at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, the Bowling Green Republican announced on his website Tuesday morning that he is seeking the GOP nomination for president.

"I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government," Paul said in a statement online.

Paul is continuing a family tradition by seeking the presidency.  His father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008 and 2012.

Rand Paul becomes the second Republican to formally announce a 2016 bid for the White House.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has vetoed portions of a state spending bill that he says will prevent budget cuts to a variety of state programs.

Beshear vetoed portions of House Bill 510, whose chief purpose was to spend an extra $68 million the state received in a settlement with tobacco companies. Lawmakers spent $23.5 million of that money on preschool, agriculture development and health care programs, and they spent $26.6 million to plug an estimated deficit.

But state budget officials now say the deficit has grown to $37.8 million. The original bill called for automatic budget cuts to fix the budget if that happened. Beshear on Monday vetoed a portion of the bill to prevent those automatic budget cuts. Instead, Beshear said his actions ensure the affected programs will have access to some of the extra money.

Sen. Rand Paul is poised to launch a presidential bid in Louisville Tuesday morning.

Political experts say the campaign of Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator  will likely be very different than any other hopeful for the Republican nomination in 2016. The main difference: Paul has set his sights on liberal voters.

For the past several months, Paul has been touring the country holding town hall-style meetings, mostly in inner cities.

Tuesday, an eye surgeon from Bowling Green is likely to step onto the biggest stage in politics.  U.S. Senator Rand Paul is expected to announce his campaign for the Republican nomination for president. 

In November 2010, Kentucky voters sent Paul to Washington in the midst of a national Tea Party movement. 

"I have a message, a message from the people of Kentucky, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words," Paul exclaimed in his election night victory speech.  "We've come to take our government back!"

Now, Paul is seeking a bigger platform for his ideas.  After more than a year of fundraising and crisscrossing early-voting states, the freshman senator is about to make his bid for the White House official. 

For a lot of conservatives in Bowling Green, it’s a proud moment.  Gayla Warner has known Paul and his family for almost two decades.  Besides the person, she likes what he stands for politically.

”The first thing that comes to mind is his dedication to make our federal government smaller, and with that is lowering taxes, and reducing spending," says Warner.

Several years ago, she couldn’t have imagined her neighbor running for the highest office in the land.

"Now that he has entered the realm of politics, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched at all to me," she adds.

Bowling Green eye doctor Robert Duvall knows Paul personally and professionally.

”As eye care providers, I can tell you he’s always been a man of impeccable integrity.  I’ve always trusted him with patients, but I also trust him to lead the country," states Duvall.  "He’s smart, determined, and willing to make tough decisions.”  

College Republicans from WKU gathered at a local coffee shop are nearly unanimous in their support of Paul, who polls best among youth voters.  Senior Zach Imel says when it comes to technology, Paul gets it.

”He’s very good with social media and getting his message out to where the youth are," explains Imel.  "Twitter, Facebook, and he’s even on Snapchat.  I think that’s very cool.”

But senior Meghan McGuirk isn’t so much a Rand fan.

”I think his attempt to run for both the Senate primary and the presidential primary indicates he’s considering more his own career, in my eyes, than what would be best for the people of this state or the United States," she suggests.

Meghan thinks Paul’s efforts to run for two offices simultaneously creates difficulties for the state Republican party.  She worries moving Kentucky’s presidential primary to a caucus will limit the number of people who are able to vote.

A political action committee supporting Republican James Comer is set to become the first outsidegroup to air TV ads in this year’s GOP gubernatorial primary.

Kentuckians for Growth, Opportunity, and Prosperity is planning to spend up to $475,000 in ads that will air in the Bowling Green, Louisville, and Lexington markets, along with $75,000 worth of radio ads.

CN2 Pure Politics reports the group describes itself as supporting “limited government” and an“unabridged right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” KCOP’s executive director declined to reveal the content of the ads.

Along with Comer, three other Republicans are running for governor: Matt Bevin, Hal Heiner, and Will T. Scott. Attorney General Jack Conway and former Congressional candidate Geoff Young are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

Presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway won’t attend President Obama’s visit to Louisville on Thursday.

He’s instead scheduled to be in Eastern Kentucky for meetings about heroin and prescription drug abuse. But a political scientist says it’s unsurprising that a Kentucky Democrat would skip a visit to the state by the party’s national leader.

Obama, who will talk about the economy in Kentucky’s largest city,  has been unpopular in Kentucky and state Democrats have distanced themselves from the president in recent years.

State politicians distance themselves from the president to avoid losing favor with more conservative Democrats across the state, said Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville.

“If you’re trying to attract them then clearly you’re going to have to portray a face to them that’s not cozying up to the so-called liberal bastions in the party starting with President Obama,” Clayton said.

Obama overwhelming lost to his rivals in Kentucky in the last two presidential elections. The state tends to skew toward the GOP in federal elections and elects mostly Democratic candidates in statewide races. The state’s governor is a Democrat and the state House is controlled by the party, but Republicans make up seven of eight members of the state’s federal delegation.

Obama Delays Departure for Kentucky Because of Iran Talks

Apr 2, 2015

President Barack Obama has delayed his departure for a trip to Kentucky because of the Iran nuclear talks in Switzerland. But he's going ahead with the visit.

The White House says Obama will depart after speaking Thursday from the Rose Garden on the breakthrough in the Iran talks.

Obama plans to tour a Louisville-based technology company and discuss job training and Republican plans to repeal the estate tax.

After Kentucky, Obama is scheduled to fly to Hill Air Force Base in Utah for an appearance there Friday.

The Utah stop would be Obama's first visit there as president. It also will leave him one state short of having visited all 50 while in office.

South Dakota is the other state Obama hasn't been to as president.

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