Senator Rand Paul ha launched his campaign for the Republican nomination for president in what will likely be a crowded pro-life field next year. Paul is a pro-life senator who maintains a 100% pro-life voting record but has made some comments that have raised some eyebrows.
“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” Paul announced on his website.
Paul, who is the second to enter the campaign, following pro-life Texas Senator Ted Cruz, will formally announce his campaign at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky today.
The Washington Times indicates Paul plans a full 50-state campaign:
Campaign advisers also told The Washington Times that Mr. Paul planned to compete in every primary election and caucus in all 50 states, all five territories and the District of Columbia, a feat that only two GOP candidates achieved in 2012.
“It’s time for a new way. A new set of ideas. A new leader, one you can trust. One who works for you and, above all, it’s time for a new president,” Mr. Paul said in a video released by his campaign as a prelude to Tuesday’s announcement.
The Kentucky senator’s “all-chips-in” message was enhanced by his winning preliminary commitment from his home state GOP to convert Kentucky’s planned presidential preference primary next May into a presidential caucus earlier in the calendar.
Paul is expected to 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. He is also expected to heavily on advisers to his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination, though his father will reportedly not appear at the rally today.
When it comes to pro-life issues, there is little doubt Paul is pro-life and, on 10 votes on pro-life issues cast in the Senate during his tenure, Paul has a 100% pro-life voting record — voting against Obamacare, to stop abortion funding with taxpayer dollars, and protecting the conscience rights of pro-life people. Paul has said “personal religious belief” is that life begins at conception.
On his campaign web site, Paul makes his pro-life views very clear.
“I strongly believe in the sanctity of life. I believe that life begins at conception and that abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. Under the 14th Amendment, it is the government’s duty to protect life as defined in our Constitution,” he says. “As a physician, one of the first things we learn is to ‘Do no harm.’ Since Roe v. Wade decision, over 50 million children have been killed in abortion procedures. As President, I would strongly support legislation restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe v. Wade, in an effort to stop harming the lives of the unborn.”
Paul continues: “Our government should not be responsible for funding abortions, and as President, I will attempt to stop the flow of taxpayer dollars to groups who perform or advocate for abortion. I believe we may be able to save millions of lives, and do no harm, by allowing states to pass their own anti-abortion laws. By giving this power to the states, I sincerely believe we would save hundreds of thousands of lives.”
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But Paul made pro-life activists curious when he said that Republicans should agree to disagree on social issues. Then, in an April interview, Paul says he doesn’t anticipate changing the laws on abortion and added that his belief that life begins at conception is a personal and religious one, not a scientific viewpoint.
“The country is in the middle (and) we’re not changing any of the laws until the country is persuaded otherwise,” he says.
Paul is clearly pro-life, but pro-life voters expect a Republican nominee in 2016 who will lead on the pro-life issue towards approving Supreme Court judges who will overturn Roe and pave the way for banning abortions state by state or nationally.
He seems to think America is not pro-life enough to ban abortions, never mind that a majority of Americans have been consistently pro-life in polls for decades — so much so that Gallup recently called the pro-life majority on abortion the “new normal.”
The pro-life movement today is looking for red meat. After two presidential campaigns with weak pro-life nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney, who did not inspire some pro-life Americans to campaign heavily on their behalf, pro-life voters want candidates who will eviscerate abortion rhetorically on the campaign trail. Comments like the ones Rand Paul has made will not serve him well if he wants to expand beyond his father’s libertarian base to become a serious 2016 presidential contender.
If Paul doesn’t offer the kind of red meat pro-life voters are demanding, they’ll quickly flock to someone like Scott Walker, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, who have carefully built bridges with the pro-life movement by speaking in plain anti-abortion language pro-life voters understand and appreciate.