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He's In: Rand Paul Embarks On 2016 Presidential Campaign

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AP
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And then there were two. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul became the second high-profile Republican to enter the 2016 presidential race Tuesday.

"President Paul! President Paul!" the chants echoed throughout the Galt House ballroom.

The libertarian-leaning lawmaker answered the cheers with a simple message: "We've come to take our country back." And though the newly-minted presidential candidate may be hesitant when it comes to nation-building overseas, it's clear he has some coalition-building to do here at home if he hopes to capture the White House. To that end, Paul kept to mostly bipartisan blaming. 

"As I watch our once-great economy collapse under mounting spending and debt, I think what kind of America will our grandchildren see? It seems to me that both parties and the entire political are to blame," he told the crowd.

In his remarks, Paul won applause on GOP hot buttons like spending and counter-terrorism, but also found a receptive audience on NSA spying and reforming the nation’s drug laws. While the Tea Party favorite has shown he can appeal to the conservative electorate, younger, less traditional voters could be the wild card. WUKY caught up with Sigurd Mandell-Zayon, a 16-year-old who stood out on the front row thanks to a shock of blue hair.

"I believe he can bring them all in if they stop and listen to his message, and find out what he really believes in," he said.

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Credit Josh James / WUKY
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WUKY
Rand Paul supporter holds campaign sign as the senator announces his candidacy.

Leveraging anti-war sentiment and youth disenchantment with a slow-growing economy could pay dividends for Paul, if he can quiet concerns among establishment Republicans worried about non-interventionalist stances he's taken on foreign policy. But Congressman Andy Barr says, without an obvious front-runner, Paul has time to make the case.

"This is a wide open presidential race and it would be terrific for Kentucky to have a Kentuckian not only be competitive but actually win the White House," he says.

From here, the Paul campaign is set to hit the ground running in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other crucial primary battlegrounds.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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