Senator Rand Paul is reportedly planning to launch his campaign for the Republican nomination for president next Spring. Paul is a pro-life senator from Kentucky who maintains a 100% pro-life voting record but has made some comments in the last 12-18 months that have raised some eyebrows.
According to a Politico report, Paul would open up a presidential campaign headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky and would run simultaneous campaigns for president and for re-election to his Senate seat in case he fails to clinch the GOP nomination in early 2016.
The report also indicates Paul will rely heavily on advisers to his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination.
In a POLITICO interview, the 51-year-old senator talked unblinkingly about the possibility of a run, and sought to draw a sharp contrast between himself and Hillary Clinton — none too subtly raising the issue of her age. At 67, she is 16 years older than he is.
“I think all the polls show if she does run, she’ll win the Democrat nomination,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s for certain. It’s a very taxing undertaking to go through. It’s a rigorous physical ordeal, I think, to be able to campaign for the presidency.”
Paul, who will face a much more crowded field on the Republican side but starts out as a slight front-runner in public polls, has begun an aggressive early campaign against Clinton.
Paul reiterated his long-standing assertion that he won’t officially decide about a presidential run until the spring, but his advisers have already laid out a timetable: They expect the campaign will be a “go” by mid-April, with an announcement as quickly after that as his staff can put together a fly-around to the early states.
Within the next few weeks, Paul is set to announce that he’ll run for reelection to the Senate in 2016 – a race that he is likely to run simultaneously with a presidential campaign. Kentucky has a law preventing a candidate from running for more than one office at a time, but Paul advisers believe they have found multiple ways around the restriction without changing the law or challenging it in court, including exploring changing the state’s GOP primary to a caucus. If Paul won the presidential nomination, he might focus on that race and drop the Senate campaign.
That decision is not without political risk: Previous presidential candidates, including Vice President Joe Biden, have often faced criticism for running concurrent national and local campaigns. Any perception that Paul is hedging his bets could also undermine his effort to be taken seriously as a mainstream front-runner.
But there’s little doubt at this point that Paul will start the presidential race as a serious Republican candidate. He is slightly ahead of former Florida governor Jeb Bush for the lead among potential GOP presidential aspirants in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls. But he has a libertarian philosophy and wariness of international activism that are at odds with the views of many in the party’s establishment.