Newspaper article International New York Times

Senator on Untested Route to Nomination ; Rand Paul, Conservative and Libertarian, Looks to Minorities and the Young

Newspaper article International New York Times

Senator on Untested Route to Nomination ; Rand Paul, Conservative and Libertarian, Looks to Minorities and the Young

Article excerpt

The Kentucky senator offers a conservative message threaded with a contrarian strain of libertarianism that he hopes will appeal to minority and younger voters.

Senator Rand Paul's entry into the race for the White House has said as much about his own political aspirations as it did about a vexing truth for Republicans: Many of them believe their party is simply not big enough to elect a president in 2016.

Offering a conservative message threaded with a contrarian strain of libertarianism that he hopes will appeal to minority and younger voters, Mr. Paul is taking perhaps the most unconventional and untested route to assembling the broader coalition that many Republicans say they will need to remain a viable national party.

In announcing his candidacy to an animated crowd of 1,500 people of all ages who stood shoulder to shoulder in a downtown hotel ballroom Tuesday, Mr. Paul said his message was "for all Americans, whether you wear a suit, a uniform or overalls, whether you're white or black, rich or poor."

"It's time for a new way," he continued, "a way predicated on justice, opportunity and freedom. Those of us who have enjoyed the American dream must break down the wall that separates us from the other America."

As the only candidate who supports less punitive drug laws, more probing oversight of the nation's intelligence agencies and a reduced military footprint abroad, Mr. Paul raises uncomfortable questions for a party whose nominating process increasingly demands that unorthodox candidates shift to align with conservative dogma.

Many Republicans doubt his strategy can succeed. He would have to alter voting preferences that have been ingrained for generations and overcome resistance from foreign-policy hawks within his party who are already criticizing his worldview as dangerously misguided.

Yet he drew one of his biggest rumbles from the crowd on Tuesday when he vowed to dismantle the government's domestic phone data collection program, the issue that perhaps most sharply separates him from his rivals.

"As president," he said, "on Day 1, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance."

Mr. Paul is joining what is expected to be a crowded field, with multiple governors, two other Republican senators and some who have run for president before. But his campaign, more than any other, will test whether one of the most enduring conventions of Republican politics -- the old Reagan idea of conservatism as a three-legged stool comprising social issues, fiscal policy and national security - - still stands.

Republicans are in general agreement that their party needs to grow. But there are significant differences about how. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, and Senator Marco Rubio of that state aim to expand the party's appeal by reconnecting with Hispanic voters. …

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