On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced he’s running for President in 2016. He first made the announcement on his website, followed by a formal press conference two hours later, and is the second person to announce a candidacy for the Republican nomination, after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)
Paul, serving his first term in the Senate since being elected in the conservative wave of 2010, is the son of libertarian icon, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Together, the two Pauls have an enviable nationwide network of donors and ardent supporters. And while the elder Paul was never able to use his niche grassroots support to get to the White House, his son hopes differently.
While Rand Paul is widely considered a libertarian-leaning Republican, he’s cut a more mainstream edge than his father.
Moreover, Rand has shored up his credentials among the mainstream electorate, by glossing over some of his more unpopular beliefs.
In fact, as he’s geared up a presidential run, he’s moved to the right on a number of issues. The Senator who gained notoriety for his 13-hour filibuster in 2013, which attacked bipartisan consensus on drone warfares after the government-backed murder of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, has been much more likely to embrace mainstream conservative foreign policy goals in recent months.
Case in point: a few weeks ago, he proposed a sizable spending increase for the military. Back in October, without a presidential campaign on the horizon, he called for a massive reduction in spending that some sources say would be almost half of the Pentagon’s funding.
Regardless of Rand’s recent repositioned, it’s clear that he’ll be a formidable force in the Republican nomination race–but only if he can walk the tightrope between his father’s ardent libertarian supporters and the mainstream Republicans who decide elections.