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Rand Paul

Rand Paul

Senator, Kentucky

Republican

The Popular Vote

0 75 100 104
75%
Average based on 104 scores
  • Free Market
    55%
  • National Security
    45%
  • American Exceptionalism
    52%
  • Consistency
    52%
  • Ethics
    55%
  • Principles
    54%
  • Accomplishments
    48%
  • Political Skills
    47%
  • Communication
    46%
  • Viability
    39%

Rand Paul

Out of the running Last modified: February 3, 2016

LPA's Final Grade: C/76(Why this Grade?)

Free Market
10
National Security
5
American Exceptionalism
7
Consistency
8
Ethics
9
Principles
9
Accomplishments
9
Political Skills
7
Communication
8
Viability
4

Leadership MatrixCandidate grading is a dynamic process and is subject to change according to ongoing evaluation using the criteria of the Leadership Matrix.

Rand Paul is a first-term senator from Kentucky who describes himself as “libertarian-ish.” He is also the son of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who ran for president on the Libertarian Party platform in 1988 and ran for the GOP nomination in 2008 and 2012. The younger Paul announced his campaign for the 2016 Republican nomination in April 2015.

Key issues he has focused on since his election include deregulation, reform of the criminal justice system, and opposition to much of the Patriot Act and what he views as unwarranted surveillance of Americans without proper court approval. While espousing a less interventionist foreign policy than many Republicans, he is more hawkish than his father.

While Paul shares many of his father’s views, he has been solidly conservative on most issues. This has posed some problems for his campaign, as many libertarian-oriented Republican voters have been disappointed in his seemingly “middle of the road’ views, for example criticizing drug prohibition but not coming out in favor of full repeal of the “war on drugs.” At the same time that he disappointed some libertarians who backed his father, his libertarian views on foreign policy issues have left many more hawkish conservatives leery of his candidacy.

Paul has considerable political talent, and has shown greater ability than his father to effectively communicate libertarian views. But his fundraising has generally lagged those of his rivals, and his poll numbers declined to the point that after qualifying for the first several “prime time” Republican debates he failed to qualify for the main stage at the mid-January debate. His poll numbers have risen modestly in recent weeks in Iowa, however, and he qualified for the next debate.

While some thought there might be an opportunity for Paul to add more conventionally conservative voters to his father’s libertarian base, thus far there is little indication that this has happened. Paul has remained a second-tier candidate occasionally in danger of falling to the third tier, and it’s unlikely he can surpass or even match his father’s previous success in the GOP nomination process.

Out of the running Last modified: February 3, 2016

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Paul has proposed replacing the current U.S. tax system with a single flat-tax rate of 14.5 percent that would apply to all income, including wages, salaries, capital gains and dividends, as well as to all corporate income. Payroll taxes would be eliminated, as would inheritance and gift taxes. The mortgage interest and charitable giving deduction would be maintained, and personal exemptions would be preserved as well so a family of four would owe no taxes on the first $50,000 in income.

He has also supported extending the Bush tax cuts for all income levels, repealing the estate tax (also known as the death tax) and has co-sponsored legislation that provides for a child-care expenses deduction. He has opposed legislation that forces out-of-state online retail companies to collect taxes in other states (the Internet sales tax) and has introduced a resolution to eliminate the medical device tax. He voted against the fiscal cliff deal at the beginning of 2013 because it raised taxes on higher-income Americans and didn’t cut spending.

He is also a signer of the Americans for Tax Reform’s “No New Taxes” pledge – a pledge that commits not to increase the tax burden on Americans during the candidate’s time in office and is often considered as a candidate “must-sign” for Republican hopefuls seeking federal and state offices.

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Paul’s actions have also been very small-business friendly – namely his ongoing support for efforts to reform the regulatory rule-making process at the federal level. He is the author and lead sponsor of the REINS Act, which would: allow a grace period for regulatory violations (late filings, etc.), require Congressional approval of any major regulatory rule, and require a cost/benefit analysis for every proposed regulatory rule by federal agencies. He opposes “net neutrality,” a policy that would allow the federal government to dictate the terms and conditions Internet service providers must offer their services under.

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Paul co-sponsored the National Right to Work Act – a bill that would amend the National Labor Relations Act to disallow the firing of an employee for his or her refusal to pay union dues. Numerous states have passed right-to-work laws for their respective states, but the National Act would make this rule applicable across all 50 states.

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He is a supporter of domestic oil, gas and mining exploration, supports the development of the Keystone XL pipeline and believes in American energy independence. In his 2014 budget bill, Paul included the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil production/exploration, continental shelf drilling and an increase in permits to drill on public land while co-sponsoring a bill that preserves state authority to regulate fracking.

Paul is vehemently opposed to cap-and-trade policies or any kind of policy that places regulations on greenhouse emissions, and has voted in favor of a bill that would prohibit the EPA from regulating carbon emissions. He has worked to curb the EPA through a variety of means, including a bill he co-sponsored creating a Regulatory Assessment Committee that would determine the energy and economic impact of proposed EPA rules.

Paul has been a stalwart defender of private property rights. He sponsored a bill that created a narrower definition of “navigable waters” allowing a state or individual to request judicial review of Army Corps of Engineers determinations or actions that affect their property. He also co-sponsored a bill that requires the consent of a governor to designate and endangered species in the affected state. That same bill also eliminated the petition process to place species on the endangered or threatened species lists and instead requires congressional authority. He also voted in favor of repealing the forest legacy program, a program that was created to “help conserve environmentally important forests from conversion to non-forest uses.”

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Paul advocated an alternative to budget cuts required under the sequestration agreement, including repeal of Davis-Bacon (a law that drives up costs on federally funded construction projects by requiring union-scale wages be paid) as well as a federal hiring freeze. He was sharply critical of the Ryan-Murray budget deal that raised spending above sequestration levels in the short term in exchange for promised spending cuts nearly a decade in the future. He also launched a filibuster of the October 2015 budget and debt ceiling deal that added new spending beyond what sequestration allows.

He has also introduced a budget that would balance within five years, called “A Platform to Revitalize America.” Key elements include reducing most discretionary spending to 2008 levels, defunding government programs that are duplicative and wasteful, selling off federal properties, and eliminating the Departments of Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Energy. He is a strong supporter of a federal balanced budget amendment, and he has spoken in favor of privatizing Amtrak.

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Paul has spoken in favor of privatizing Amtrak.

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As a health care practitioner, Paul is very familiar with the American health care system. He supports the repeal of the HMO Act of 1979 and Obamacare. He has actively voted to repeal Obamacare and also supported an amendment to the act that would allow individuals to keep their doctors.  He instead supports tax deductions for medical expenses, believes in a free market approach to health care reform, and supports allowing people to have Health Savings Accounts without having a high-deductible healthcare plan, as the law presently requires.

Paul has also said the Veterans Administration health system should be reformed, with the VA providing some specialized services while allowing veterans to seek other care in the private sector.

His “A Platform to Revitalize America” balanced budget included block grants to states for Medicaid, S-CHIP (a health program for poor children), food stamps, and nutrition programs.

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In 2011, Paul co-sponsored a welfare reform bill that increased work requirements and supervised job search programs for welfare recipients. The bill aimed to reduce the size of the program and return it to its original intent to help those who have demonstrated needs and to more aggressively and effectively work to get people off public assistance and return to self-sufficiency.

Paul has co-sponsored a bill that raises the eligibility age for Social Security benefits to 70 by 2032 and gradually increases early retirement to 64 by 2028. He also sponsored a bill that would allow anyone eligible for Medicare to instead join the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, giving retirees far more private coverage options than currently allowed. He is also supportive of allowing individuals to invest a portion of their social security taxes in a private retirement account.

His “A Platform to Revitalize America” balanced budget included block grants to states for Medicaid, S-CHIP (a health program for poor children), food stamps, and nutrition programs.

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Paul has been supportive of free trade agreements between the U.S. and Columbia, Panama, and Korea, and opposed “trade adjustment assistance,” a federal program intended to reduce the negative impacts foreign imports can have on certain sectors of the U.S. economy. After expressing concerns over ceding Congressional power and giving President Obama “fast track” negotiating authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Paul voted to allow the trade measure to advance in the Senate.

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Paul is a supporter of immigration reform with an emphasis on securing the border and creating a guest worker program while “normalizing” current illegal immigrants by giving them work visas but not citizenship. Paul voted against the “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform bill because it did not include stronger border security provisions. He has emphasized the need for more work visas that could be earned by illegal immigrants each year so long as the Department of Homeland Security meets its security enforcement metrics.

He also supports building a fence along the southern border and eliminating services such as welfare and medical care for illegal immigrants. He has called for a court review of the 14th amendment (the amendment in the Constitution that grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States”) and would support an amendment that would deny citizenship to those born of illegal immigrants in the United States. He also advocates for making English the official language of all documents and contracts.

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Paul’s record on agriculture policy is largely centered on agricultural subsidies. He has voted in support of limiting the amount of premium subsidies issued to individuals or entities that have an average adjusted gross income of $750,000 or more. He has also supported focusing benefits and payments to farmers with an income of $250,000 or less and eliminate subsidies altogether for those farmers with an income of over $1 million – essentially keeping access to subsidies for smaller farmers and cutting off or reducing the government assistance to the large farms. He has also voted against sugar subsidies and price supports for peanuts, sugar, and milk. However, Paul did vote against the repeal of tobacco crop insurance premium subsidies, a key industry in Kentucky.

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Paul remains largely consistent in his opposition to corporate welfare, including his opposition to subsidizing energy companies, and he was an outspoken opponent of the bank and auto industry bailouts. He opposed reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. He does, however, support providing tax credits for the development of alternative, renewable energy sources.

He has voted in support of limiting the amount of premium subsidies issued to individuals or entities that have an average adjusted gross income of $750,000 or more. He has also supported focusing benefits and payments to farmers with an income of $250,000 or less and eliminate subsidies altogether for those farmers with an income of over $1 million – essentially keeping access to subsidies for smaller farmers and cutting off or reducing the government assistance to the large farms. He has also voted against sugar subsidies and price supports for peanuts, sugar, and milk. However, Paul did vote against the repeal of tobacco crop insurance premium subsidies, a key industry in Kentucky.

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Paul introduced legislation to repeal Dodd-Frank, a bill that adds more regulations to the financial services industry. He has also called for an audit of the Federal Reserve and believes that the free market should set interest rates.

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He supported keeping $700 billion in automatic defense spending cuts that were part of the 2011 debt limit deal, and he feels that the only way the Pentagon is going to get rid of waste is to cut its budget and force it to review its costs. He also proposed cutting defense research spending as an alternative to other cuts required under budget sequestration.

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He has consistently opposed the Patriot Act and has sponsored a bill prohibiting the federal government access to individuals’ phone records without a search warrant based on probable cause. In February 2014 he joined in filing a class-action lawsuit in response to the National Security Agency’s collection of private citizens’ phone records through phone providers without a warrant. The lawsuit alleges that the collection of this information from the NSA was unconstitutional. He has expressed limited sympathy and understanding for Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents regarding domestic surveillance programs before fleeing to China and then Russia, but he has also said Snowden should be convicted and imprisoned for revealing classified material.

Paul has supported keeping the Guantanamo Bay prisoner detention facility open, but he also said he opposes indefinite detention.

He recently said he opposes establishing a no-fly zone in Syria, which he said could lead to “World War III” with Russia, but he favors providing arms directly to the Kurds to fight against ISIS. He has said the U.S. should not accept Syrian refugees because of concerns terrorists might use the program to come to the U.S., and he also suggested French citizens wishing to travel to the U.S. might need to face enhanced scrutiny. He has also said the U.S. should not sell any more weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar until they begin accepting Syrian refugees.

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Paul has said publicly that if he’d had the chance, he would have voted against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He also opposed the U.S. actions in Libya and initially opposed the actions against ISIS in Syria – saying that those actions made the area unstable. However, in September 2014, Paul reversed his position on U.S. intervention in Syria and expressed his support for the strikes against ISIS. He recently said he opposes establishing a no-fly zone in Syria, which he said could lead to “World War III” with Russia.

Paul introduced legislation that would halt all U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority if it joined the International Criminal Court, where it could seek war-crimes charges against Israel. He has also suggested that immigration should be restricted from countries he described as “hotbeds” of Islamic extremism.

In March 2015 Paul was among a group of 47 Republican senators who signed an open letter to the Iranian regime explaining any deal negotiated between the Obama administration and Tehran that was not approved by Congress could be undone by executive action of the next president. Once a deal was reached, he announced his opposition based on Iran’s continuing to have some nuclear capabilities, sanctions being lifted before compliance was verified, and the end of prohibitions on the sale of advanced weaponry to Iran. He has continued to voice his support for a diplomatic solution to the problem, however.

In the early days of the turmoil between the Ukraine and Russia, Paul suggested the U.S. maintain a “respectful relationship with Russia.” However, when the Russian parliament authorized the use of military force in Ukraine, Paul condemned the actions. He supports economic sanctions over military action in this matter.

He voiced support for normalizing relations with Cuba after the Obama administration began to do so, saying the embargo had failed to cause regime change and caused pain for the people of Cuba, not the leaders. Paul also said he would “probably” change current U.S. policy granting Cuban refugees a quicker path to legal status and ultimately citizenship to bring the policy in line with other immigration processes, calling the preferential treatment a “legacy of the cold war.”

Paul is not a fan of current foreign aid spending levels and has publicly stated the U.S. needs to drastically reduce foreign aid funding – including to Israel. During the budget sequestration debate he argued foreign aid should be cut by half. However, he has supported a resolution that reinforced U.S. support for Israel against Hamas.

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Paul has said it is time for the GOP to reconsider its opposition to judicial activism, arguing that “judges have played an important role in defending the rights of individuals fighting against government overreach.”

Paul criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell (Obamacare tax credits) and accused the Court of “turn[ing] both the rule of law and common sense on its head.” Following the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, (same-sex marriage) Paul penned an op-ed in Time that said he disagreed “with the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage,” and calling for the government to get out of the marriage business altogether. Paul has said that he agrees with the court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. He supports overturning Roe v. Wade and sending the issue of abortion back to the states because “the states would be a better area for [the abortion debate].”

Paul has also been a critic of what he calls the “militarization” of local police departments and believes that the creation of these “small armies” has disproportionately affected minorities in this country. He has called for substantial reform of the criminal justice system including for abolition of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, and has spoken about how the legal system treats blacks, Hispanics, and the poor differently than whites and those from middle-class and upper-class backgrounds.

Paul held up the nomination of U.S. Circuit Court nominee David Barron due to a memo Barron wrote that is considered the basis for justification for killing American citizens overseas.

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Paul has been a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, to the point where his affiliation with an organization seen as even more hostile to gun control than the National Rifle Association caused him to not be invited to speak at the annual NRA meeting. He joined two other senators in promising to filibuster any additional gun control legislation proposed after the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012.  He is also opposed to the U.S. signing the UN Arms Trade Treaty that many gun rights advocates are concerned would infringe on the Second Amendment.

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Paul has supported numerous pieces of pro-life legislation, and believes it should only be legal in instances where the mother’s life is in danger, and possibly in some other individual circumstances.  He has co-sponsored a “human life amendment” to the constitution that would effectively prohibit nearly all abortions.

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Paul opposes same-sex marriage and believes it be left up to individual states to decide. He has suggested that government should get out of recognizing marriage altogether, and vowed to protect the conscience rights of individuals and businesses that object to participating in same-sex weddings.

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Paul is a supporter of religious liberty and voted for the amendment to Obamacare that exempted organizations from providing services that are in conflict with their religious beliefs. He has also supported a religious exemption from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and said of a Kentucky county clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses over the issue of same-sex marriage that “I think people who do stand up and are making a stand to say that they believe in something is an important part of the American way.”

Paul has expressed support for some campaign finance restrictions on political speech aimed at government contractors, denying them First Amendment rights in exchange for accepting government work. He has otherwise supported First Amendment political speech rights, including voting against a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to limit money spent in politics, including silencing corporations, unions, and other groups. He also criticized McCain-Feingold for violating the Constitution. However, he does not support the protection of radical speech within religious organizations that promote the overthrow of government and believes that those individuals should be either deported or imprisoned.

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Paul has been an active advocate of reducing the influence of the federal government and returning power to local and state government. In addition to his call for the elimination of the federal Department of Education, he has co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit the federal government from designating an area as a national park, forest, wildlife refuge, scenic river, trail or wilderness preserve without approval by the state legislature from the state in which the area is located. He has also endorsed term limits for Congress.

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Like many among the tea party movement, Paul has advocated for the elimination of the federal Department of Education and supports returning the matter of education back to state and local control.  He has advocated converting federal Title I funds into vouchers that would follow low-income students to any public or private school they attend, and supports school vouchers in general. He is an opponent of the Common Core education standards.

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Paul has proposed replacing the current U.S. tax system with a single flat-tax rate of 14.5 percent that would apply to all income, including wages, salaries, capital gains and dividends, as well as to all corporate income. Payroll taxes would be eliminated, as would inheritance and gift taxes. The mortgage interest and charitable giving deduction would be maintained, and personal exemptions would be preserved as well so a family of four would owe no taxes on the first $50,000 in income.

He has also supported extending the Bush tax cuts for all income levels, repealing the estate tax (also known as the death tax) and has co-sponsored legislation that provides for a child-care expenses deduction. He has opposed legislation that forces out-of-state online retail companies to collect taxes in other states (the Internet sales tax) and has introduced a resolution to eliminate the medical device tax. He voted against the fiscal cliff deal at the beginning of 2013 because it raised taxes on higher-income Americans and didn’t cut spending.

He is also a signer of the Americans for Tax Reform’s “No New Taxes” pledge – a pledge that commits not to increase the tax burden on Americans during the candidate’s time in office and is often considered as a candidate “must-sign” for Republican hopefuls seeking federal and state offices.

Paul advocated an alternative to budget cuts required under the sequestration agreement, including repeal of Davis-Bacon (a law that drives up costs on federally funded construction projects by requiring union-scale wages be paid) as well as a federal hiring freeze. He was sharply critical of the Ryan-Murray budget deal that raised spending above sequestration levels in the short term in exchange for promised spending cuts nearly a decade in the future. He also launched a filibuster of the October 2015 budget and debt ceiling deal that added new spending beyond what sequestration allows.

He has also introduced a budget that would balance within five years, called “A Platform to Revitalize America.” Key elements include reducing most discretionary spending to 2008 levels, defunding government programs that are duplicative and wasteful, selling off federal properties, and eliminating the Departments of Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Energy. He is a strong supporter of a federal balanced budget amendment, and he has spoken in favor of privatizing Amtrak.

Paul co-sponsored the National Right to Work Act – a bill that would amend the National Labor Relations Act to disallow the firing of an employee for his or her refusal to pay union dues. Numerous states have passed right-to-work laws for their respective states, but the National Act would make this rule applicable across all 50 states.

Paul’s actions have also been very small-business friendly – namely his ongoing support for efforts to reform the regulatory rule-making process at the federal level. He is the author and lead sponsor of the REINS Act, which would: allow a grace period for regulatory violations (late filings, etc.), require Congressional approval of any major regulatory rule, and require a cost/benefit analysis for every proposed regulatory rule by federal agencies. He opposes “net neutrality,” a policy that would allow the federal government to dictate the terms and conditions Internet service providers must offer their services under.

Paul has been supportive of free trade agreements between the U.S. and Columbia, Panama, and Korea, and opposed “trade adjustment assistance,” a federal program intended to reduce the negative impacts foreign imports can have on certain sectors of the U.S. economy. After expressing concerns over ceding Congressional power and giving President Obama “fast track” negotiating authority on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Paul voted to allow the trade measure to advance in the Senate. More recently however he has voiced objections to the TPP because he feels the process gives too much power to the president.

As a medical doctor, Paul is very familiar with the American health care system. He supports the repeal of the HMO Act of 1979 and Obamacare. He has actively voted to repeal Obamacare and also supported an amendment to the act that would allow individuals to keep their doctors.  He instead supports tax deductions for medical expenses, believes in a free market approach to health care reform, and supports allowing people to have Health Savings Accounts without having a high-deductible healthcare plan, as the law presently requires.

Paul has also said the Veterans Administration health system should be reformed, with the VA providing some specialized services while allowing veterans to seek other care in the private sector.

In 2011, Paul co-sponsored a welfare reform bill that increased work requirements and supervised job search programs for welfare recipients. ). The bill aimed to reduce the size of the program and return it to its original intent to help those who have demonstrated needs and to more aggressively and effectively work to get people off public assistance and return to self-sufficiency.

His “A Platform to Revitalize America” balanced budget included block grants to states for Medicaid, S-CHIP (a health program for poor children), food stamps, and nutrition programs.

Paul has co-sponsored a bill that raises the eligibility age for Social Security benefits to 70 by 2032 and gradually increases early retirement to 64 by 2028. He also sponsored a bill that would allow anyone eligible for Medicare to instead join the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, giving retirees far more private coverage options than currently allowed. He is also supportive of allowing individuals to invest a portion of their social security taxes in a private retirement account.

Paul is a supporter of immigration reform with an emphasis on securing the border and creating a guest worker program while “normalizing” current illegal immigrants by giving them work visas but not citizenship. Paul voted against the “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform bill because it did not include stronger border security provisions. He has emphasized the need for more work visas that could be earned by illegal immigrants each year so long as the Department of Homeland Security meets its security enforcement metrics.

He also supports building a fence along the southern border and eliminating services such as welfare and medical care for illegal immigrants. He has called for a court review of the 14th Amendment (the amendment in the Constitution that grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States”) and would support an amendment that would deny citizenship to those born of illegal immigrants in the United States. He also advocates for making English the official language of all documents and contracts, and has suggested that assimilation is one key to success for immigrants coming to America.

Paul’s record on agriculture policy is largely centered on agricultural subsidies. He has voted in support of limiting the amount of premium subsidies issued to individuals or entities that have an average adjusted gross income of $750,000 or more. He has also supported focusing benefits and payments to farmers with an income of $250,000 or less and eliminate subsidies altogether for those farmers with an income of over $1 million – essentially keeping access to subsidies for smaller farmers and cutting off or reducing the government assistance to the large farms.

He has said he opposes mandatory labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms, saying he prefers to have the market determine labeling requirements.Paul has also voted against sugar subsidies and price supports for peanuts, sugar, and milk. However, he did vote against the repeal of tobacco crop insurance premium subsidies, a key industry in Kentucky.

Paul remains largely consistent in his opposition to corporate welfare, including his opposition to subsidizing energy companies, and he was an outspoken opponent of the bank and auto industry bailouts. He opposed reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, and has consistently advocated scaling back or eliminating agricultural subsidies and price supports. He does, however, support providing tax credits for the development of alternative, renewable energy sources.

He is a supporter of domestic oil, gas and mining exploration, supports the development of the Keystone XL pipeline and believes in American energy independence. In his 2014 budget bill, Paul included the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil production/exploration, continental shelf drilling and an increase in permits to drill on public land while co-sponsoring a bill that preserves state authority to regulate fracking.

Paul is vehemently opposed to cap-and-trade policies or any kind of policy that places regulations on greenhouse emissions, and has voted in favor of a bill that would prohibit the EPA from regulating carbon emissions. He has worked to curb the EPA through a variety of means, including a bill he co-sponsored creating a Regulatory Assessment Committee that would determine the energy and economic impact of proposed EPA rules.

Paul has been a stalwart defender of private property rights. He sponsored a bill that created a narrower definition of “navigable waters” allowing a state or individual to request judicial review of Army Corps of Engineers determinations or actions that affect their property. He also co-sponsored a bill that requires the consent of a governor to designate and endangered species in the affected state. That same bill also eliminated the petition process to place species on the endangered or threatened species lists and instead requires congressional authority. He also voted in favor of repealing the forest legacy program, a program that was created to “help conserve environmentally important forests from conversion to non-forest uses.”

Paul introduced legislation to repeal Dodd-Frank, a bill that adds more regulations to the financial services industry. He has also called for an audit of the Federal Reserve and believes that the free market should set interest rates.

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International Relations

Paul is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee. Both assignments have provided him background in these two policy areas and can put him at an advantage over some of his potential primary opponents.

In the early days of the turmoil between the Ukraine and Russia, Paul suggested the U.S. maintain a “respectful relationship with Russia.” However, when the Russian parliament authorized the use of military force in Ukraine, Paul condemned the actions. He supports economic sanctions over military action in this matter.

He voiced support for normalizing relations with Cuba after the Obama administration began to do so, saying the embargo had failed to cause regime change and caused pain for the people of Cuba, not the leaders. Paul also said he would “probably” change current U.S. policy granting Cuban refugees a quicker path to legal status and ultimately citizenship to bring the policy in line with other immigration processes, calling the preferential treatment a “legacy of the cold war.”

Senator Paul has advocated drastically reduce foreign aid funding – including to Israel. During the budget sequestration debate he argued foreign aid should be cut by half. However, he has supported a resolution that reinforced U.S. support for Israel against Hamas.

War on Terror

Following terrorist attacks in 2015 against armed forces recruiting stations in Tennessee, Paul proposed legislation authorizing military personnel to carry weapons at military facilities, including recruiters at stations that are typically located in civilian areas.

Paul has said publicly that if he’d had the chance, he would have voted against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He also opposed the U.S. actions in Libya and initially opposed the actions against ISIS in Syria – saying that those actions made the area unstable. However, in September 2014, Paul reversed his position on U.S. intervention in Syria and expressed his support for the strikes against ISIS. He recently said he opposes establishing a no-fly zone in Syria, which he said could lead to “World War III” with Russia, but he favors providing arms directly to the Kurds to fight against ISIS. He has said the U.S. should not accept Syrian refugees because of concerns terrorists might use the program to come to the U.S., and he also suggested French citizens wishing to travel to the U.S. might need to face enhanced scrutiny. He has also said the U.S. should not sell any more weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar until they begin accepting Syrian refugees.

Paul introduced legislation that would halt all U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority if it joined the International Criminal Court, where it could seek war-crimes charges against Israel. He has also suggested that immigration should be restricted from countries he described as “hotbeds” of Islamic extremism.

In March 2015 Paul was among a group of 47 Republican senators who signed an open letter to the Iranian regime explaining any deal negotiated between the Obama administration and Tehran that was not approved by Congress could be undone by executive action of the next president. Once a deal was reached, he announced his opposition based on Iran’s continuing to have some nuclear capabilities, sanctions being lifted before compliance was verified, and the end of prohibitions on the sale of advanced weaponry to Iran. He has continued to voice his support for a diplomatic solution to the problem, however.

He has consistently opposed the Patriot Act and has sponsored a bill prohibiting the federal government access to individuals’ phone records without a search warrant based on probable cause. In February 2014 he joined in filing a class-action lawsuit in response to the National Security Agency’s collection of private citizens’ phone records through phone providers without a warrant. The lawsuit alleges that the collection of this information from the NSA was unconstitutional. He has expressed limited sympathy and understanding for Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents regarding domestic surveillance programs before fleeing to China and then Russia, but he has also said Snowden should be convicted and imprisoned for revealing classified material.

Paul has supported keeping the Guantanamo Bay prisoner detention facility open, but he also said he opposes indefinite detention.

Military Preparedness & Budget

He supported keeping $700 billion in automatic defense spending cuts that were part of the 2011 debt limit deal, and he feels that the only way the Pentagon is going to get rid of waste is to cut its budget and force it to review its costs. He also proposed cutting defense research spending as an alternative to other cuts required under budget sequestration.

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Paul forcefully defended American exceptionalism in comments responding to an op-ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, writing: “America’s exceptionalism is rooted in our founding documents and values. From the rights granted by our creator, but guaranteed by our Constitution. We should not shy away from saying so, especially when our actions are in keeping with this exceptional founding, as they were this week in our debate over going to war in Syria. Our constitutional checks and balances were on full display, largely resulting in the at least temporary halting of a rush to war.”

Judiciary & Crime

Paul has said that it is time for the GOP to reconsider its opposition to judicial activism, arguing that “judges have played an important role in defending the rights of individuals fighting against government overreach.”

Paul criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell (Obamacare tax credits) and accused the Court of “turn[ing] both the rule of law and common sense on its head.” Following the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, (same-sex marriage) Paul penned an op-ed in TIME that said he disagreed “with the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage,” and calling for the government to get out of the marriage business altogether. Paul has said that he agrees with the Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. He supports overturning Roe v. Wade and sending the issue of abortion back to the states because “the states would be a better area for [the abortion debate].”

Paul has also been a critic of what he calls the “militarization” of local police departments and believes that the creation of these “small armies” has disproportionately affected minorities in this country. He has called for substantial reform of the criminal justice system including for abolition of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, and has spoken about how the legal system treats blacks, Hispanics, and the poor differently than whites and those from middle-class and upper-class backgrounds.

Paul has questioned the use of domestic drones in the U.S. by law enforcement and the federal government. He held up the appointment of President Obama’s nominee for director of the CIA, John Brennan. His filibuster of the appointment was not in opposition to Brennan but to force the executive branch to pledge not to use drones on noncombatants on U.S. soil.

Free Speech & Religious Liberty

Paul is a supporter of religious liberty and voted for the amendment to Obamacare that exempted organizations from providing services that are in conflict with their religious beliefs. He has also supported a religious exemption from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and said of a Kentucky county clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses over the issue of same-sex marriage that “I think people who do stand up and are making a stand to say that they believe in something is an important part of the American way.”

Paul has expressed support for some campaign finance restrictions on political speech aimed at government contractors, denying them First Amendment rights in exchange for accepting government work. He has otherwise supported First Amendment political speech rights, including voting against a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to limit money spent in politics, including silencing corporations, unions, and other groups. He also criticized McCain-Feingold for violating the Constitution. However, he does not support the protection of radical speech within religious organizations that promote the overthrow of government and believes that those individuals should be either deported or imprisoned.

Education

Like many among the tea party movement, Paul has advocated for the elimination of the federal Department of Education and supports returning the matter of education back to state and local control.  He has advocated converting federal Title I funds into vouchers that would follow low-income students to any public or private school they attend, and supports school vouchers in general. He is an opponent of the Common Core education standards.

Federalism

Paul has been an active advocate of reducing the influence of the federal government and returning power to local and state government. In addition to his call for the elimination of the federal Department of Education, he has co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit the federal government from designating an area as a national park, forest, wildlife refuge, scenic river, trail or wilderness preserve without approval by the state legislature from the state in which the area is located.

An opponent of mandatory food labeling laws, he has expressed concern based on federalism principles about having the federal government prevent states from imposing their own labeling requirements. He also expressed support on 10th Amendment principles for allowing Colorado to decriminalize marijuana without federal interference, saying at the second Republican debate in September 2015 “[W]e were never intended to have crime dealing at the federal level. Crime was supposed to be left to the states…”He has also endorsed term limits for Congress.

If he becomes president, Paul has vowed to repeal every executive order signed by previous presidents. While probably not meant literally, it does underline his belief that the actions by presidents to alter legislation are inappropriate.

Social Issues

Paul has been a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, to the point where his affiliation with an organization seen as even more hostile to gun control than the National Rifle Association caused him to not be invited to speak at the annual NRA meeting. He joined with two other senators in promising to filibuster any additional gun control legislation proposed after the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012.  He is also opposed to the U.S. signing the UN Arms Trade Treaty that many gun rights advocates are concerned would infringe on the Second Amendment.

Paul has supported numerous pieces of pro-life legislation, and believes it should only be legal in instances where the mother’s life is in danger, and possibly in some other individual circumstances.  He has co-sponsored a “human life amendment” to the constitution that would effectively prohibit nearly all abortions.

Paul opposes same-sex marriage and believes it should be left up to individual states to decide. He has suggested that government should get out of recognizing marriage altogether, and vowed to protect the conscience rights of individuals and businesses that object to participating in same-sex weddings.

He does not support affirmative action or the preferential treatment of minorities.

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Paul has been a strong opponent and critic of most U.S. military actions overseas, but he has changed positions on this matter at least once. In August 2014, Paul cautioned against the U.S. intervening in Syria in the conflict with ISIS. However, in September 2014, he reversed his position and expressed support for the attacks against ISIS.

Another inconsistency in policy position is his initial opposition to earmarks during his 2010 campaign; once he was in office, he advocated for earmarks for his home state of Kentucky.

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The senator’s character has come into question on a couple of occasions, specifically with regard to alleged plagiarism in his speeches and his book. In reaction to these allegations, Paul has taken responsibility for not properly citing sources and announced plans that would change how his office works to guard against plagiarism in the future. While he has taken responsibility for not thoroughly citing material in his speeches or books, he has publicly said he feels like he was unfairly scrutinized and held to a higher standard than others.

Since 2010, there have been some questions regarding his board certification in the state of Kentucky. Dr. Paul was certified under an organization called “National Ophthalmology Board,” an entity he founded. However, the organization has been out of business since 2011 and was never recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. He had previously been certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Paul has faced two malpractice lawsuits in the course of his career – one that was dismissed, and another that resulted in a $50,000 settlement with the plaintiff.

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There is little doubt that Paul’s principles are firmly grounded in libertarian thought, although like his father he is fairly conservative on social issues. There is very little difference in the statements he has made on the campaign trail and elsewhere and the policies he has supported since being elected. He has not hesitated to take unpopular stands at odds with party leadership or key conservative constituencies, perhaps most notably regarding the use of drones in the war on terror.

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In 2013 and 2014, Time magazine named Paul one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He has also received other awards and recognitions, including the Melvin Jones Fellow Award for Dedicated Humanitarian Services from the Lions Club International Foundation (for founding the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic).

Paul, along with now former Sen. Jim DeMint and Sen. Mike Lee, created the Senate Tea Party Caucus in the Senate.

 

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As one of Time magazine’s “most influential people,” Paul has developed a national name for himself. His positions opposing most U.S. intervention in overseas conflicts has also earned him a following by independents and some on the left, including liberal television show host Bill Maher.

Paul’s fellow Kentucky senator, Mitch McConnell, has publicly endorsed Paul for president. Sen. John McCain also expressed his growing support for Paul in a September 2014 interview.

Paul’s voting and bill sponsorship records show his support of policy important to those on both sides of the aisle, and he has demonstrated an ability to work with people who have a broad range of political views. His willingness to tackle issues such as elimination of minimum mandatory sentencing and what he calls the “militarization” of police has given him credibility in speaking to minority communities that many Republicans lack.

Upon entering the Republican primary in 2010, Paul raised a record-breaking $433,509 in a 24-hour period.  As a political newcomer, he faced a tough primary against Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Grayson attacked Paul early and accused him of having “strange ideas” and suggesting that American policy was the cause for the September 11 attacks. In the general election against Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, Paul’s winning campaign outspent his opponent: $6 million by Paul, $4.7 million by Conway.

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Paul is a strong communicator, especially when he is talking about government “spying” on private citizens’ lives. The topic and the passion with which he speaks often excites not only many in the Republican base but also under-30 voters. He has spoken to a broad range of groups that transcend the traditional conservative bases around the country. In addition to his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he has also spoken to audiences at Howard University (a historically black college) and University of California-Berkeley. This broad public speaking portfolio has provided him the ability to practice and refine both his speech content and delivery.

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Since 2010, there have been some questions regarding his board certification in the state of Kentucky. Dr. Paul was certified under an organization called “National Ophthalmology Board,” an entity he founded. However, the organization has been out of business since 2011 and was never recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. He had previously been certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Paul has faced two malpractice lawsuits in the course of his career – one that was dismissed, and another that resulted in a $50,000 settlement with the plaintiff.

He is listed as the president of a company called Alchemy LLC. The company is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and lists his wife and his father as members. It seems to be the main source of income for the senator. Paul’s Senate campaign lists Alchemy’s address as its headquarters, although the campaign has not paid rent or reported an in-kind contribution from Alchemy for the use of the address or space. Interestingly enough, despite his father’s position as a member of the Alchemy LLC company, the senior Paul (Ron) has not listed the company on any of his own financial disclosures over the past five years. It is uncertain what the company does or how it generates income for Rand Paul.

Paul’s religious activities have been a factor in his political career, including in 2010 when his opponent for the Senate seat called Paul’s Christianity into question due to some affiliations Paul had in his college years. Paul’s opponent accused him of being a member of the NoZe Brotherhood during his time at Baylor University. This group, known for its humor, would publish satirical articles targeting the university and the Southern Baptist convention. His opponent also accused Paul of tying up a woman in college and forcing her to bow down to a god called the “Aqua Buddha.” These allegations appeared in GQ, The Washington Post and Politico, yet a source was never printed.

While his ethics have been questioned on matters regarding the legitimacy of his ophthalmology certification in Kentucky, plagiarism in speeches and his book, and a flip-flop on the U.S. policy to intervene in Syria – none of these singular issues seem enough to discount him from the presidential race. Paul’s potential 2016 rivals are likely to find themselves targeting his views for attack rather than his person in an effort to paint him as outside the mainstream of both the Republican and Democratic parties; for example, by trying to paint him as favoring legalization of all drugs including heroin (a position he does not seem to hold).

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Rand Paul receives a high mark on free markets and lower marks on national security and political skills.

Paul receives high marks for being principled, ethical and consistent, holding to both libertarian and conservative values. He is solid on free market values, supporting less government intervention, smaller government, and lower taxes. He is considered an influential legislator, able to reach across the aisle on some issues, and communicates well to diverse crowds.

He has certain isolationist views of national security and opposes U.S. intervention in most overseas conflicts, as well as supporting reducing the military budget.

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Paul has not broken out of the pack in terms of fundraising or broad appeal. His philosophically libertarian roots place him at odds with most Republican faithful and, while sometimes making compelling arguments for specific policies, Paul lacks the breadth of mainstream Republican thinking. He is a libertarian running as a Republican and that inconsistency, as with his father, strains credulity outside of his home state.

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