And now there are two.
“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” Paul announced on his website.
Paul is the second Republican to announce a 2016 campaign, following Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who announced his candidacy late last month. The Republican race for the White House will likely become far more crowded in the coming weeks and months, however, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and, of course, Donald Trump all expected to make bids for the Oval Office.
Paul is scheduled to officially launch his campaign around 11:30am ET today, in a speech that will stream on his campaign website, randpaul2016.com. In the meantime, he is taking questions from the public via his Facebook page.
Few are surprised by Paul’s 2016 run. He has repeatedly hinted at his presidential ambitions, and recently released a video that opens with the line, “On April 7, a different kind of Republican will take on Washington.”
Known as a staunch libertarian (well, sometimes), Paul often strays from his Republican colleagues on key issues. In 2013, for example, he held a 13-hour filibuster against the CIA‘s use of drones during the nomination of John O. Brennan as head of the Central Intelligence Agency. He has also opposed National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance of Americans (to greater and lesser effect) and has a history of working with Democrats on certain issues, such as medical marijuana reform.
Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, Paul changed his Twitter handle from @SenRandPaul, which is now defunct, to simply @RandPaul. A practicing ophthalmologist, Paul also changed his bio to identify him as Dr. Rand Paul, a status he apparently plans to push hard as he fights his way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Paul is also asking Americans to get in on the action. In addition to his Facebook Q&A, he released his official campaign logo and asked graphic designers to mock up their own versions, a plan that is sure to not end in embarrassing memes.
At the moment, Paul trails Bush and Walker in the polls and sits in a four-way tie with Cruz, Huckabee, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for the 2016 Republican nomination.
Illustration by Max Fleishman