Rand Paul

Citing 'unfinished business,' Rand Paul will announce re-election effort Tuesday

Sen. Rand Paul
thinks his bills have a chance now that the GOP will be 
in charge.
Sen. Rand Paul thinks his bills have a chance now that the GOP will be in charge. AP

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is making a major campaign announcement Tuesday.

Fresh off Thanksgiving break at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky's junior senator will officially announce he is running in 2016 for a second term in the Senate.

You were expecting something else?

Paul, who is openly considering a presidential bid that same year, told the Herald-Leader in an interview Monday that while he was still "four to six months" away from making a decision about a White House run, "the one thing we've decided is that I'm definitely running for re-election."

"We still have great problems that confront us, and I think there needs to be a voice for fiscal sanity — looking at spending across the board and saying, 'We've got to look at all facets of government in order to control spending, or we don't at our own peril,'" Paul said.

On Tuesday, his team will roll out endorsements from the Republican members of Kentucky's congressional delegation and several state Republican leaders, including Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover.

When asked why Kentuckians should give Paul another term, the freshman senator who has become a national Republican star pointed to government spending, President Barack Obama's "war on coal" and the need to find a way to pay for roads and bridges in the commonwealth.

"I think that there's unfinished business in the sense that I ran for office because I was frustrated that the country was accumulating so much debt and that I was worried that it was not only a drag on the economy but ultimately I think a threat to the country," Paul said. "I've been here for four years in the minority party, and I think the Democrats have continued to make it worse. We still borrow a million dollars a minute."

With almost two years until Election Day 2016, no Democrat has publicly said they plan to challenge Paul for Senate.

When asked whether he anticipated the same kind of national Democratic fundraising and energy that fueled Alison Lundergan Grimes' unsuccessful race this year against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul said it was too early to tell.

"Nobody knows what the future will hold," he said. "And so that's one reason we are getting out of the box early and letting people know what our intentions are."

Paul said one of the lessons he took from watching McConnell's victory is that it "shows that Kentucky, if anything, is becoming more conservative and is very concerned about this president leading us in the wrong direction and this president's war on coal."

With McConnell leading a new Republican majority, Paul said he hoped the Senate would make progress on bills he filed when his party was in the minority.

The senator specifically cited his desire to find a way to entice U.S. companies operating overseas to return their profits stateside with some kind of repatriation tax holiday. Money generated from that could be used to repair crumbling bridges and roads, he said.

"Without this, I don't see a way of getting Kentucky's roads and bridges built," Paul said.

The senator said he had been talking to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., about a bipartisan deal that would bring some of that tax money home. With McConnell leading the Senate, Paul is optimistic that the proposal would at least be up for debate.

"I think now that we're in charge, we'll have a very reasonable chance that I might be able to get a vote on that," he said.

Paul also pointed to increased regulations coming from the Obama administration, saying he thought a Republican Congress should use all of the appropriations bills as a way to "rein in the arrogance and really sometimes the lawlessness of this president and to do that by controlling how the money is spent."

"And so I think if we do our job in the appropriations process, there's every chance we may be able to get government under control," he said.

In particular, Paul said last month's election results indicated that Kentuckians were furious with Obama and national Democrats over environmental policies that affect the coal industry.

"Coal has been such a great job provider in our state and such a part of the backbone of our economy for so long, we need somebody to defend our Kentucky jobs," Paul said.

The senator said another new regulation, which won't be finalized until next year, just landed on his desk.

"It's one thing after another, so we have to figure out if we can stop them," Paul said, echoing one of the central themes of McConnell's re-election effort.

As for whether he has considered any of the details about how his Senate re-election campaign would coexist with a possible presidential run, Paul said, "I don't think we've gotten that far yet."

"We're still talking it over with family and also kind of looking to see if the message is resonating and we think it has a chance."

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