Republican Presidential Candidate Profile: Rand Paul

The Hill Talk is giving a quick rundown of each Republican candidate in advance of the first primary debate on Thursday, August 6.

Here is our profile of U.S. Senator Rand Paul.

Rand Paul

photo by Reuters/Jason Reed

Quick Facts:

  • Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • 52 years old.
  • Graduated from Duke University School of Medicine, earning Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.)
  • Started practicing ophthalmology (eye specialist) in 1993; now owns practice in Bowling Green, KY, specializing in cataract and glaucoma surgeries.
  • Founded Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic in 2009 for patients who couldn’t previously afford exams or surgery.

Political Experience:

  • Founded North Carolina Taxpayers Union in 1991, Kentucky Taxpayers United in 1994.
  • Elected Kentucky Senator in 2010, replacing 23-year House and Senate veteran Jim Bunning.

Positions on the Issues

Economy/Budget:

Healthcare:

  • Supports repeal of Obamacare – “Prior to the implementation of Obamacare, our health care system was over-regulated and in need of serious market reforms”.
  • Suggests free-market alternative to Affordable Care Act – “I have long supported making all medical expenses tax deductible, allowing insurance to be bought across state lines, tort reform . . . removing the high-deductible insurance policy requirement to access Health Savings Accounts.”

Immigration:

  • Would only grant legal work status for illegal immigrants after securing the border.
  • Introduced Border Security amendment in Senate that “would make immigration reform contingent on Congress voting to certify that the border is secure” – proposal stipulates that border fence be built within five years, includes “Trust but Verify” amendment which requires Congress to design “a border security blueprint rather than asking the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a plan.”

Social Issues:

  • Supports Second Amendment (gun ownership) rights.
  • Disagrees with recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide, but wrote in a Time op-ed that “all Americans have the right to contract.”
  • Personally disagrees with abortion, but said “the country is . . . somewhere in the middle, and we are not changing any of the laws until the country is persuaded otherwise.”

Foreign Policy:

  • Ideally would like to end all U.S. foreign aid – 2011 budget proposal included absolutely zero funding of allies, including Israel.
  • On the fence regarding Iran nuclear deal – “What I would have preferred in this agreement would be that we gradually reduce sanctions over a several year period.”
  • Accuses President Obama of not having a focused strategy in the Middle East – “If I had been in (his) shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against ISIS.”
  • Advocates for only going to war with Congressional approval.

National Security/Privacy Rights:

  • Believes NSA spying and bulk-collection of meta-data is unconstitutional (Fourth Amendment).
  • Says “general warrants”, forcing phone companies to hand over customer records to the government, would end under a Paul Administration.
  • In 2014, Paul sued Obama Administration and NSA for injury caused by agency’s practice of spying/seizing of phone records.

Government Reform:

  • Endorses abolishing Department of Education, and diverting funds to state and local school programs.
  • In 2012, Paul started petition to support his “End the TSA” bill, after a run-in with airport security in Nashville caused him to miss his flight to Washington.
  • Strong advocate of cutting federal government regulation of environment, safety, and health – introduced bill to “increase accountability for and transparency in the Federal regulatory process.”
  • Supports term-limits for House and Senate members.

Who will vote for him?

Currently mired mid-pack in a crowded Republican field, Senator Paul enjoys strong support from civil libertarians, among whom his father was even more popular, in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Geographically, his message will probably resonate loudest in the Mountain West.

Debate video:

On defense budget spending