Politics

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky announced his bid for president Tuesday in downtown Louisville, pledging to shake up politics and “defeat the Washington machine.”

Paul, 52, of Bowling Green, is the second Republican to announce his bid for The White House. He made the announcement before a feverish crowd at the Galt House hotel.

Portraying himself as anti-establishment, Paul hit on a variety of topics, casting blame with both parties and the entire political system.

He said he wants to shrink the government’s scope,  particularly its spending. He called liberal policies hurtful to low-income and minority populations, especially inner-city communities. And he called radical Islam “the enemy,” while warning that federal officials shouldn’t infringe on civil liberties in its fight for peace.

Among those in attendance: Renee Jackson, a Louisville native who recently moved to Florida. She returned to town, though, to show her fervent support for Paul.

Like others, Jackson said she likes Paul because he is a “little less” Republican than other candidates — and certainly more Libertarian.

“I don’t agree with every way he leans, but I’m getting more and more– the older I get– a Libertarian,” she said.

This has been one of Paul’s biggest assets as a candidate: his Libertarian views have drawn in a lot of independent voters.

William Slusher, a freshman at the University of Kentucky, said he identifies as a Republican, but he sees his views as more Libertarian, much like Paul.

Slusher said Paul’s opposition to NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, in particular, is a reason for support.

As a young Republican, Slusher said he is relieved Paul is making an effort to extend the party to voters who don’t typically support Republicans.

“He’s really reached out to try and diversify the Republican Party, like try and bring in a lot of African Americans and minorities,” he explained.

Dereck Barber, of Louisville, was one of a few minority voters that showed up to Paul’s announcement. He said he met Paul a few months back during the candidate’s outreach efforts in West Louisville.

“He was talking about things that were tangible: economic freedom zones, understanding how our justice department might be a little off track and out of control– those things that ring true to the African American community,” Barber said.

Following his announcement in Louisville, Paul is set to canvass the country.