Rand Paul

Abbey Oldham

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul made no mention of the unarmed black man killed by a white police officer during a campaign stop just miles from where the shooting happened.

Paul often says that U.S. criminal justice isn't equally applied, a statement he repeated at his rally Thursday. But since launching his White House bid Tuesday, the Kentucky senator has sidestepped questions about the high-profile South Carolina case.

North Charleston police officer Michael Slager initially claimed he shot Scott in self-defense. Slager was later fired and charged with murder after a bystander's video showed him firing his weapon repeatedly as Scott fled.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford did not shy away from the case, telling Paul supporters it proves the senator is right about the importance of civil liberties.

In fact, Sen. Rand Paul's first days as a presidential candidate have not gone as planned.

The first-term Kentucky senator is no stranger to attention. But in opening his campaign, he betrayed a hot temperament that, by his own admission, needs some control.

After defensive and dodging press interviews about abortion, Iran and his shifting views on some issues, he's acknowledged he'll have to get better at holding his tongue and temper.

Paul skipped encounters with the media altogether after his rally in South Carolina on Thursday.

In his first 24 hours as a contender, Paul lectured an NBC reporter about how to ask a question and grew testy in an Associated Press interview when asked about abortion policy.

A research group that compiles political fundraising invitations from around the country found that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s fundraising efforts provide a snapshot into the junior senator’s campaign that is different from his rhetoric.

According to Political Party Time, an arm of the Sunlight Foundation, “Paul has thrown 26 get-togethers to benefit his own campaign coffers…. [and] of that tally, more than half have taken place in Washington, D.C.”

During his presidential run announcement on Tuesday, Paul portrayed his candidacy as an effort to change Washington from the outside. He criticized D.C. politics and said special interests hold too much power in the nation’s capitol.

“We have come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank, the special interests that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare,” he told a large room of supporters in Louisville this week.

Paul assured the crowd his campaign would be different.

“Too often when Republicans have won, we have squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine,” he said. “That’s not who I am.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a newly declared Republican presidential candidate, is dodging a central question about abortion: What exceptions, if any, should be made if the procedure were to be banned?

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Paul would not say where, in his view, a pregnant woman's rights begin and those of the fetus end.

"The thing is about abortion — and about a lot of things — is that I think people get tied up in all these details of, sort of, you're this or this or that, or you're hard and fast (on) one thing or the other," Paul said.

In the past, Paul has supported legislation that would ban abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother's life. At other times, he has backed bills seeking a broader abortion ban without those exceptions.

Campaigning in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Paul told the AP that people get too tied up in these details and it's his conviction that "life is special and deserves protection."

Paul entered the GOP race Tuesday and is this week campaigning in the first four states to vote in the nomination contest.

Exceptions in any abortion ban are a politically sensitive topic for Paul and some of his rivals. They want to nudge the party away from a focus on such social issues, but know that winning the nomination requires some backing from religious conservatives who press for strict, if not absolute limits on abortion.

In Iowa, where Paul will campaign Friday, Rev. Terry Amann of Walnut Creek Community Church near Des Moines said he saw no place for equivocation on the issue.

Welcome to the 2016 presidential campaign. Republican Rand Paul officially entered the race Tuesday, and was greeted with a TV ad calling him "wrong and dangerous" on Iran. The money behind the ad is secret.

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.

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.

Sen. Rand Paul's advisers are preparing to launch a White House bid on April 7.

A senior Paul adviser said Tuesday the Kentucky Republican is set to make his presidential ambitions official in Louisville, Kentucky. He then is expected to visit early nominating states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

The adviser demanded anonymity to speak ahead of Paul's public announcement. The adviser adds that Paul could still pull the plug on a campaign, although that is not expected to happen.

Paul's team has booked an event at Louisville's Galt House hotel. His supporters have also received invitations to that site.

Details of the kick-off event were first reported by The Lexington Herald-Leader.

A voting rights advocate says a potential Republican Party presidential caucus in Kentucky next year would need to include specific rules to protect overseas voters’ rights.

This month, state GOP leaders gave preliminary approval to conducting a presidential caucus in 2016 instead of the usual primary. The change was requested by Sen. Rand Paul—a likely 2016 presidential candidate—to get around a state law banning candidates from appearing twice on a ballot.

Grace Ramsey, a voting expert of the Maryland-based election reform advocacy group Fair Vote, said a presidential caucus itself isn’t a problem. But because caucuses consist of sequential rounds of in-person voting, the process of including absentee voters can be tricky.

“Obviously this is this in-person process and if you can’t be there it can cause problems for participation, and it is entirely possible to adjust and adapt and make sure that those voters can be included,” she explained.

One option Ramsey suggested: sending overseas voters ranked ballots. The voters would list candidates in order of preference; Ramsey said such a process would help ensure overseas voters’ opinions counted throughout the caucus’ process of elimination.

According to the Kentucky State Board of Elections’ records, 279 military and overseas voters returned absentee ballots for the 2012 Primary Election.

A committee of state GOP officials will decide the rules and procedures for the caucus and present it to a larger committee of the Kentucky GOP in August, when the party will hold a final vote on the matter.

The Kentucky Republican Party appears ready to change the way it nominates presidential candidates—something that would help Senator Rand Paul run for the White House and Senate in 2016.

The executive committee of the state party gave preliminary approval Saturday to Paul’s request to hold a presidential caucus next year, instead of a primary election.

A formal decision on the move will come in August.

State law prohibits a candidate from appearing for more than one office on the same ballot.

By going to a caucus system, Kentucky Republicans are making it possible for Paul to seek Senate re-election and the presidency at the same time.

A county GOP leader told WKU Public Radio that executive committee members were told not to speak to reporters about the decision.

But he confirmed the vote to move to a caucus next year was unanimous.