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How Rand Paul Is Different From Ron Paul

Created: 07 April, 2015
Updated: 15 October, 2022
3 min read

Rand Paul is expected to announce the launch of his 2016 presidential campaign on Tuesday. In anticipation of the announcement, people have wondered if his father, former U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), will be involved in the campaign at all.

The New York Times reported Monday that Ron Paul will likely take a minimal role at most. The Times reported that Ron Paul has been mostly quiet over the last couple of weeks, refusing all interview requests. However, according to Bloomberg, he is expected to be at his son's launch event.

Politico reported on March 26 that Rand Paul may not be able to rely on Ron Paul's most loyal supporters, though much of the liberty movement could still get behind his campaign. There will likely be plenty of Ron Paul supporters who are deterred by the fundamental difference between the two men: idealism versus pragmatism.

Ron Paul is known as the "godfather of the tea party movement." Contrary to popular belief, the tea party didn't emerge as a response to Barack Obama's presidency, but was started by supporters of Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign. Yet, the movement Paul started looks nothing like the modern tea party, which has strayed far from its roots.

Ron Paul has always been a politician that puts principle first. His career in the U.S. House of Representatives (1976-2013) was highlighted by his staunch defense of the U.S. Constitution and individual liberty. He is a member of the Republican Party, but does not shy away from vocally opposing popular Republican positions, like maintaining the PATRIOT Act or hawkish war policies. He also never hesitated to vote against his GOP colleagues when he opposed a bill.

Ron Paul's idealistic approach to lawmaking didn't make him very popular with members of his party or his party's base. The media characterized him and anyone who supported him as being on the fringe of the political spectrum. Yet, his idealism attracted supporters with diverse political philosophies and views. Few presidential candidates in U.S. history can boast such broad support. People who felt disenfranchised by the political elites were drawn to him and still are today.


U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) helped rally support for his father during Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign. In fact, after the 2008 primary campaign, many Ron Paul supporters also wanted to see his son run for political office and drafted him to run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky in 2010.

However, it didn't take long for some Ron Paul supporters to realize that Rand Paul wasn't going to go down the exact same path as his father. Rand proved to be a more diplomatic legislator than Ron Paul, willing to compromise staunch libertarian positions to work with his fellow Republicans in the upper chamber.

Since entering the Senate, Rand Paul has walked a tight rope trying to balance the pro-liberty political philosophy of his father with more mainstream Republican views. While this is not popular with some Ron Paul supporters, he was able to broaden his appeal not only among Republicans, but young voters and minority voters. Rand's approach also set him apart from other prospective 2016 presidential candidates.

Rand Paul believes the Republican Party needs to fix its image. He is not trying to lead a political "revolution" like his father. Instead, he is trying to restore the GOP's image as a big tent party. He is attempting to bridge the gap between the libertarian wing of the GOP and members of the party's "old guard," while taking a pragmatic approach to issues that affect voters who historically vote for candidates outside the Republican Party.