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Rand Paul Vows To 'Take Our Country Back' In Presidential Candidacy Speech
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Rand Paul Vows To 'Take Our Country Back' In Presidential Candidacy Speech

Politics

Rand Paul Vows To 'Take Our Country Back' In Presidential Candidacy Speech

Rand Paul Vows To 'Take Our Country Back' In Presidential Candidacy Speech
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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced his candidacy for president Tuesday in Louisville, Ky. In a speech to supporters, Sen. Paul vowed to "take our country back."

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is now officially a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Senator Paul is a libertarian-leaning conservative. His father, the former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, ran for president three times. Now, Rand Paul is hoping to broaden his base beyond the young people and libertarians who supported his dad. NPR's Don Gonyea reports from Louisville, where the Senator made his announcement.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Rand Paul is running as a nontraditional Republican. His focus is on personal liberties, privacy, a smarter U.S. military and a smaller government. But his event in a downtown Louisville hotel felt completely traditional. A dozen American flags lined the wall behind him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

GONYEA: Then, a prayer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: We thank you for this day that you have brought us together to witness a movement in this country.

GONYEA: A young girl sang the national anthem.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: (Singing) And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air.

GONYEA: Finally, after more speeches and lots of campaign videos, it was the candidate's turn. The crowd chanted, President Paul.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Cheering) President Paul, President Paul.

RAND PAUL: I have a message.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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PAUL: A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our country back.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: In bold letters high above and behind the candidate, a giant banner featured the slogan Defeat the Washington Machine, Unleash the American Dream. The senator railed against big government.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL: We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security. We can wake up now and do the right thing - quit spending money we don't have.

GONYEA: Repeatedly, he jabbed at Republicans as well as Democrats, saying the blame is shared by both parties. Paul has often been at odds with his party on national security. He's been a strong opponent of nation building, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. But unlike his father, Ron Paul, the former Congressman and presidential candidate who called for a huge reduction in the U.S. footprint around the globe, Senator Paul speaks of his support for a strong defense.

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PAUL: The enemy is radical Islam. You can't get around it.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: And not only will I name the enemy, I will do whatever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: On Iran, Senator Paul also disagrees with other likely GOP candidates. He does not oppose talking to Iran, but insists any deal must be approved by Congress. Finally, perhaps the issue he's best known for - privacy and the belief that U.S. surveillance of its own citizens is un-American.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL: I say that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: Senator Paul's father Ron was on stage with other family members for the event, but he didn't speak and the new candidate didn't mention his father's past runs for the same office. Ron Paul is generally seen as a blunt-spoken man who's anything but diplomatic. It worked to his detriment as a presidential candidate. The son takes a more nuanced approach to debate. That's wise, says Rand Paul supporter Aaron Witten, the chairman of the GOP in Kentucky's Grayson County.

AARON WITTEN: You know, his dad was not afraid to say what was on his mind, but you don't win elections that way. Rand has learned that.

GONYEA: There will be big tests ahead for a non-traditionalist Republican seeking his party's presidential nomination. From Louisville, Senator Rand Paul travels to New Hampshire, South Carolina and then Iowa over the next three days. And Republicans, including lots of traditional ones, are looking forward to engaging in some give-and-take. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Louisville.

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