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It's Now Official: Rand Paul Is Running For President

The Kentucky senator made the announcement Tuesday on his website. "I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government."

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined by his wife Kelley Ashby, arrives to announce the start of his presidential campaign, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky.

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Rand Paul in announcement speech: "We have come to take our country back."

Speaking at the Galt House in his home state of Kentucky, Paul formally announced his bid for presidency with a promise to take on the "Washington machine" and take the country back from special interests.

"Today begins the journey to take America back. To rescue a great country now adrift, join me as together we seek a new vision for America. Today I announce with God's help, with the help of liberty lovers everywhere, that I am putting myself forward as a candidate for president of the United States of America," Paul said.

In his speech, Paul focused on issues that have been integral to his message since his election to the Senate in 2010, such as a law requiring bills be read everyday and a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. He also spoke broadly about personal liberty and justice.

"We have come to take our country back from the special interests that use Washington as their personal piggy bank, the special interests that are more concerned with their personal welfare than the general welfare," Paul said. "The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives must be stopped."

The Kentucky senator will now embark on a "Stand with Rand" tour through the early presidential voting states: New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, and Nevada.

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Paul's campaign posted this video featuring his wife, Kelley:

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Rand Paul announced on Tuesday what most have known for a while: The Kentucky senator is running for president.

Paul, a former eye surgeon, vaulted to national prominence in 2010 after a surprise Senate win after defeating a more establishment-minded candidate in Kentucky's Republican primary.

"I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government," he said on his campaign site.

Since then he has become a vocal, complex figure from the more libertarian-minded wing of the Republican Party, taking on large, national issues like drones, government surveillance, prison sentencing, and medical marijuana. For over 12 hours in 2013, he filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director over the potential use of drones against U.S. citizens on American soil.

Paul's father, Ron Paul, built a loyal following of libertarian-leaning voters during his last two presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012. The older Paul's intense focus on foreign policy isolationism and strict, limited government made his campaign beloved by activists, but ultimately narrower in appeal.

The younger Paul has been more willing to traverse a broader path, engaging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and staking out foreign and domestic policy positions at times more in line with the views held by more traditional Republican voters.

Among the other potential Republican contenders, Paul has also been the most vocal and frequent in his attacks on the presumed-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Last year, Paul challenged claims made by Democrats that the Republicans were waging a "war on women" by pointing to what he called Bill Clinton's predatory behavior. More recently, he has called on Hillary Clinton to return donations made by foreign countries like Saudi Arabia to her family's foundation, saying Clinton should be ashamed to accept money from countries that don't respect the rights of women.

Paul will launch his campaign with an event at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky, Tuesday. He will then campaign in the early presidential primary states over the next four days.