Rand Paul For President: What You Should Know

Photo: REX USA.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a politician best known for his love of turtleneck sweaters and his wacky dad, is running for president. He's going to get a lot of attention for being a different kind of Republican candidate: He's Libertarian, (relatively) hip, and more in tune with younger voters. Paul has cultivated a persona of a maverick who takes positions that don't easily align with one party or the other. But, make no mistake — he's very, very conservative. Here are six essential things to know about the second official Republican presidential candidate for 2016.

He really hates flying robots:
In 2013, Paul launched a 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor to protest the use of drones in anti-terrorism operations on U.S. soil. Paul's filibuster wasn't just a one-man conservative quest. Civil liberties experts and advocates have spent years asking questions about how the U.S. decides who to kill with the remotely controlled flying weapons systems.

He'd rather not talk about climate change:
Paul has said a lot of things about climate change, and they are not exactly consistent. He wants to talk about easing environmental regulations for energy production, and he thinks the Environmental Protection Agency is out to steal your land, but there is no mention of climate change on his campaign site. As Mother Jones points out, Paul has straight-up denied the existence of climate change in past statements.

He wants to reform the prison system:
Paul is very conservative in a lot of ways: he thinks the EPA is unnecessary, that wealthy people pay too many taxes, and that social programs like food stamps should be gutted. But, he supports legislation aimed at reducing the U.S. prison population, which exploded thanks to drug policies that unfairly targeted people of color.

He hates government regulations, except when it comes to abortion:
Paul's campaign website even includes an issue page for "regulation," and in his world, bureaucrats "are trampling our freedom and rights." However, he opposes abortion and thinks states should be allowed to pass whatever anti-abortion laws they want. Most states already have serious restrictions to reproductive care.

Running for president is a family affair:
This will be Rand Paul's first run for president, but since 2008, he's had the chance to watch his father mount two failed campaigns. Ron Paul spent decades in Congress as a Representative from Texas, and managed to attract some two million voters during Republican primaries in 2008 and 2012. 

He's got great campaign swag:
Rand Paul announced his campaign Tuesday morning in a tweet, but his online merch store is already stocked with all the novelty items you could possibly need. Rand Paul masks on sticks? Done. Worried that someone's spying on you through your computer? Get an official Rand Paul Webcam blocker! Maybe you want a copy of the Constitution with Paul's autograph. And, if you'd like to "use your phone case to spread the message of freedom and liberty," as the store says, Rand Paul has a selection of iPhone cases for you. 
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