On December 8, 2013, Paul stated his family will determine whether or not he will run for president, claiming, "The thought has crossed my mind ... I'm not ready to make a decision yet." There have been 16 senators elected to the presidency, including Barack Obama. Paul's father, former Representative Ron Paul, ran for the presidency three times, including once as a Libertarian in 1988. He was endorsed by fellow Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell (R) upon McConnell's retention of his Senate race in 2014. McConnell, who had been supported by Paul's endorsement in his Senate race, stated on Paul's possible candidacy, "I don't think he's made a final decision on that. But he'll be able to count on me."
Paul's chief of staff, Doug Stafford--who is widely seen as Paul’s closest adviser--announced plans to resign in order to manage Paul’s national political operation, according to reports from May 2, 2013. Stafford's role would be focused on directing the senator’s organization in early-primary states, his calendar, and his communications. He will also run Paul’s political-action committees — RAND PAC and Rand Paul for U.S. Senate — which are expected to grow and are the financial and political foundation for Paul’s likely presidential campaign if he chooses to run for President in 2016.
In May and June 2013, Paul planned trips to several states for the beginning of a presidential exploration tour. States Paul planned to visit on the trip include California, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. During Paul's visit to Iowa on May 11, 2013, he criticized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack. During Paul's trip to the Granite State, New Hampshire state house representative Phil Straight (R) called Paul a "contender" for the 2016 presidential race. He was also one of six Republicans headlining a major fundraising event in New York City on September 23, 2013.
Paul headlined a September 20, 2014 California Republican Convention, attacking Hillary Clinton's foreign policy record, particularly the 2012 attack in Benghazi which he argued should "preclude her from being [president]." He also focused his message that the Republican Party needed to change in some ways in order to bring in voters who may have been polarized by recent Republican stances. He also told the San Francisco Chronicle that his team was "in the process" of opening an office in San Francisco, where he has wealthy supporters.
Paul wrote an editorial for Time magazine in which he called out the militarization of local police departments as well as race relations between law enforcement and minorities. Paul argued that the federal government was encouraging the local departments to create "small armies" through a program with the Defense Department. Coming on the heels of the police shooting and public rioting in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, he claimed, "Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement." In discussing race relations, he wrote, "Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention." He continued, pointing out that "it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them."
Paul announced on September 12, 2014, that if he were to be elected president, his first executive order would be to repeal all previous executive orders from past presidents. He stated, "We’ve done way too many things [the wrong way]: Signing statements, altering legislation by the president, are wrong and unconstitutional and shouldn’t happen. Executive orders shouldn’t either." A spokesperson explained further, "Senator Paul's statement was meant to emphasize this president's overt and unconstitutional executive orders, it was not meant to be taken literally."
Public statements about possible run
- In an interview in April 2013, Paul answered when asked whether he'll run for president, “We are considering it. You know, I want to be part of the national debate. So whether I run or not, being considered is something that allows me to have a larger microphone.”
- On December 8, 2013, Paul said the life of a national politician can be an “ordeal,” and the impact of uncivil treatment on his family could nix any 2016 presidential run. “It really is an ordeal to be part of public life. ... I also hate it when family is attacked, and they get into the news,” he said.
- Paul criticized potential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in an August 24, 2014 interview, calling her a "war hawk." He stated, "I think that’s what scares the Democrats the most is that in a general election, were I to run, there’s going to be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say we are tired of war, we’re worried that Hillary Clinton is going to get us into another Middle Eastern war because she’s so gung ho. If you want to see a transformational election in our country, let the Democrats put forward a war hawk like Hillary Clinton and you’ll see a transformation like you’ve never seen."
Comments on possible campaign
- When asked whether Paul would run, Paul's father, former Representative Ron Paul, stated, "I think he probably will. I mean he’s been on TV hinting that he very well might. I think he is handling himself quite well."
- Bill Maher, liberal host of Real Time on HBO, spoke with interest about Paul on September 10, 2014, suggesting, "Rand Paul is an interesting candidate to me. Rand Paul could possibly get my vote. As I always used to say about his father, I love half of him. I love the half of him that has the guts to say we should end the American empire, pull the troops home, stop getting involved in every foreign entanglement… He’s way less of a hawk than Hillary, and that appeals to me a lot because I’m not crazy about how warlike she is."
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed his growing support for Paul in a September 29, 2014 interview, stating, "I know that if he were president or a nominee I could influence him, particularly some of his views and positions on national security. He trusts me particularly on the military side of things, so I could easily work with him. It wouldn’t be a problem."
- Paul took issue with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's use of federal disaster relief funding to pay for a tourism marketing campaign following Hurricane Sandy. Of the use of $25 million on the campaign, Paul stated, "In New Jersey, $25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for political office. Do you think there might be a conflict of interest there?"
- Paul faced strong criticism in 2013 for plagiarism in his speeches, newspaper articles and even his book "Government Bullies." He announced plans to change the way his office works in guarding against plagiarism, stating, "We’re now going to footnote everything and make sure it has a reference because I do take this personally, and I don’t want to be accused of misrepresenting myself." After it was discovered speeches in Joe Biden's 1988 presidential campaign were plagiarised, he dropped out of the race and didn't run again until 2008.
Public opinion polls
- A July 2013 poll conducted by Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling found that Paul led other possible Republican presidential candidates by a margin of 16%. The other politicians in the poll included (in order of results) Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio.
- A December 11, 2013, poll conducted by Quinnipiac showed Paul losing a hypothetical election against Hillary Clinton, with Paul receiving 41% to Clinton's 48%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll released December 11, 2013, showed Paul losing to likely Republican challenger Chris Christie 12% to 18%.
- A March 2014 survey conducted by CNN showed Paul leading the GOP field for presidential hopefuls, edging out Paul Ryan by one point. With 16% support, Paul also polled much better than Chris Christie who only garnered 8%.
- The Hill, "Rand Paul: 'Ordeal' of public office, family treatment may nix 2016 White House run," accessed December 9, 2013
- United States Senate, "Senators Who Became President," accessed October 16, 2013
- National Journal, "Ron Paul Steps Toward Third Presidential Race," April 25, 2011
- National Journal, "Mitch McConnell Backs Rand Paul in 2016, Giving Him the Kind of Endorsement His Father Never Won," November 7, 2014
- National Review "The Rand Machine Ramps Up" accessed May 3, 2013
- 9News "GOP's Rand Paul raises profile with eye on 2016," May 10, 2013
- Washington Post "Sen. Rand Paul explores 2016 presidential road with Iowa GOP trip as Gov. Jindal visits NH," May 10, 2013
- NBC Politics "Rand Paul challenges Hillary Clinton in key Iowa speech," May 11, 2013
- WJLA "Rand Paul in Iowa today amid 2016 chatter," May 10, 2013
- Courier-Journal "Kentucky Senator Rand Paul seen as 'contender' in New Hampshire," May 27, 2013
- Politico, "GOP 2016 hopefuls slated for NYC event," August 26, 2013
- The Hill, "Rand Paul sharpens 2016 pitch," September 20, 2016
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Eye on presidency? Sen. Rand Paul to open office in Bay Area," September 20, 2014
- Politico, "Rand Paul's race moment," August 15, 2014
- The Hill, "Rand Paul says as president he would repeal all executive orders," September 12, 2014
- The Hill, "Paul: Clinton too much of a ‘war hawk’," August 24, 2014
- Politico, "Ron Paul: Rand Paul will likely run in 2016," December 10, 2013
- The Hill, "'Real Times Maher 'could' vote for Paul," September 10, 2014
- The New Yorker, "The Revenge of Rand Paul," September 28, 2014
- Asbury Park Press, "Rand Paul bashes Chris Christie again on 'Stronger than the Storm' ads," November 15, 2013
- Courier-Journal, "Plagiarism issue puts focus on Rand Paul," November 9, 2013
- Politico, "Rand Paul leads GOP 2016 primary poll," accessed July 25, 2013
- Politico, "2016 poll: Chris Christie 42%, Hillary Clinton 41%," December 11, 2013
- CNN, "CNN Poll: Rand Paul goes where his father never went," March 16, 2014