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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul launches 'anti-establishment' run for presidency

"Today begins the journey to take America back," Rand Paul said in launching his campaign.

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul launches 'anti-establishment' run for presidency
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., delivers remarks as he announces his presidential candidacy in Louisville, Ky. Photo by Jamie Rhodes/UPI | License Photo

LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 7 (UPI) -- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has announced he is running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2016.

"Today I announce with God's help, with the help of liberty lovers everywhere that I am putting myself forward as a candidate for president of the United States of America," Paul said during his announcement speech Tuesday to a cheering crowd gathered in Louisville, Ky.

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His remarks centered on the economy and the recent recession.

"It seems to me that both parties and the entire political system are to blame," Paul said. "Quit spending money we don't have."

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"Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so," Paul said, adding the possibility of a constitutional amendment ordering a balanced budget. "We can't borrow our way to prosperity."

Suggesting term limits for Congress, Paul said, "We have too many career politicians."

Paul considers himself a "different kind of Republican." He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 by campaigning for national debt reduction, federal spending cuts and repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

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Paul said he will frame himself as "the most anti-establishment figure in the race."

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"Government should be restrained... freedom should be maximized," Paul said to the crowd.

"The enemy is radical Islam," Paul said, stating that the enemies of the United States must be identified. He also said the United States should stop sending foreign aid to countries that are "haters of America."

Although younger Republicans agree with some of Paul's policies, such as his support of normalizing relations with Cuba, many in the GOP oppose his positions, including his previous opposition to the United States conducting airstrikes on Islamic State targets -- a position he has since reversed.

He has frequently used the slogan "I Stand with Rand" on social media, a possible campaign slogan. "I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government," Paul said in announcing his candidacy on his website.

Paul has recently strayed from controversy by not commenting on the ardent discussion over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many critics perceive as being anti-LGBT and many other potential Republican presidential nominees have supported.

Paul said he would immediately end "unconstitutional" surveillance by intelligence-gathering agencies like the National Security Agency if elected president. Laws that would disproportionately incarcerate minorities would also be repealed, he said.

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Paul, son of former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, appeals to a broader audience by questioning harsh sentences for drug offenders, which cost the government millions to keep imprisoned, and by opposing government surveillance.

Paul won the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll for the third time in a row in February. Paul had 25.7 percent of the vote, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker following closely with 21.4 percent. Some 3,000 conservative leaders participated in the vote.

Paul holds nearly 9 percent of favorable polls for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's near 17 percent and Walker's 16 percent, according to averages by Real Clear Politics.

Paul is the second big-name candidate to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination, following Sen. Ted Cruz.

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