Sen. Rand Paul launched his 2016 presidential campaign Tuesday with a combative challenge both to Washington and his fellow Republicans, cataloguing a lengthy list of what ails America and pledging to "take our country back."
Paul's fiery message, delivered in his home state of Kentucky before he flew to four early-nominating states, was designed to broaden his appeal outside of the typical GOP coalition as well as motivate supporters of his father's two unsuccessful bids for the Republican presidential nomination.
In a 26-minute speech that eviscerated "the Washington machine," he spared neither Republican nor Democrat as he attempted to tap into Americans' deep frustrations with their government.
"I worry that the opportunity and hope are slipping away for our sons and daughters," the tea party favorite said. "As I watch our once-great economy collapse under mounting spending and debt, I think, `What kind of America will our grandchildren see?'"
I'll be honest. Given Sen. Paul's lineage, I really didn't want to like him. However, I was impressed how he was able to win a U.S. Senate seat while campaigning with a libertarian/tea party bent. And then when he arrived in Washington, Paul was willing to accept the cold, hard reality that many libertarians are not, which is it's going to take more than one election cycle to steer the country off the progressive course. Yes, in many WIBERTY! camps, "incremental change" is a dirty phrase.
Another aspect in Paul's favor is the ability to energize young people. As we witnessed with Barack Obama in 2008, motivated youth can be a difference maker. Today, the millennial generation has made it known that one of their greater concerns includes government involvement/intrusion in multiple facets of their lives, something which Paul continually emphasizes. I also lauded Paul for his willingness to engage the black community, of which 90-95% vote Democrat. If a GOP candidate for President can make even a marginal dent in that voting bloc, it would all but guarantee victory in 2016.
What Paul has going against him, of course, is his less than coherent stance on foreign policy. Given the myriad issues the next president will have to address regarding ISIS, Iran, Syria, etc., a non-interventionist approach likely won't play well with the GOP base.
Another issue is the lack of political experience. Paul is only in the midst of his first term in the U.S. Senate, a dilemma that will also face fellow GOP Senators Ted Cruz (announced his 2016 run last month) and Marco Rubio (likely to run in 2016). However, Cruz has had other noteworthy experience, including arguing nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in his role as Solicitor General of Texas. And Rubio served nine years in the Florida House of Representatives (including the last two as Speaker) before being elected to the Senate.
In the end, the GOP base will determine whether or not certain experience is required or even relevant. As a Republican voter myself, I'm just grateful we have some solid choices this time around.