Rand Paul, the 52-year-old Republican senator from Kentucky who announced his run for president today has made waves ever since he rode the tea party surge to power in 2010.
Blending a fierce libertarian streak – advocacy for civil liberties and avoiding foreign conflicts – with traditional family values, he has attracted a disparate group of supporters around the country. And he’s stood out in Congress with his outspokenness and independence, from filibustering the nomination of CIA director John Brennan in 2013 to expressing support for medical marijuana.
But here are some things you might not know about Paul:
- He was one of the few Republicans on Congress who went to Ferguson in the wake of the protests over the police shooting of an unarmed black man last year. Paul, who has spoken at historically black colleges says there is no “bigger defender of minority rights in the Congress” than him.
- To express his suspicion of the NSA”s surveillance programs, he sometimes holds up a phone during speeches and says that it’s “none of the government’s damn business” what you do with your smartphone.
- He made headlines when he contrasted experts and suggested last year that Ebola is “incredibly contagious” that can spread from one person to another standing three feet away.
- During college, at Baylor University, Paul was a member of a secret organisation known as the NoZe Brotherhood, as part of which Paul was alleged to have helped kidnap a woman, forced her to use marijuana and bow to a god known as “Aqua Buddha.” Paul has denied the story, calling it “outrageous and ridiculous.”
- Paul is a licensed ophthalmologist who specialises in cataract and glaucoma surgeries, as well as LASIK surgery.
- Paul opposes same-sex marriage and has described it as a “moral crisis.” His solution: “another Great Awakening with tent revivals,” referring to an 18th-century century religious revival.
- Back in 2008, he spoke out against the NAFTA Superhighway, a mythical plan that obsessed conspiracy theorists who thought that the US was helping building a 10-lane highway, flanked by oil pipelines that would connect the US, Mexico and Canada.
- He has expressed concerns about the Bilderberg Group, a group of business leaders whose annual conference is a favourite subject of conspiracy theorists fearful of a “one-world socialist government.” Paul has said that the group is made up of “very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage. They want to make it out like world government will be good for humanity. But guess what? World government is good for their pocketbook.”
- When Paul met his future wife Kelley at a oyster roast in Atlanta in 1989, she thought he looked “about eighteen.”
- The same day that Paul talked about running for president at the Freedom Partners Forum in January 2015, his father Ron Paul “delivered a speech on secession and dissolution of centralised governments at a libertarian conference in Houston,” reports ABC News.
- Though he and his father share many of the same libertarian views as Ayn Rand, the candidate was not named after the late novelist. His real first name is Randal and he grew up as “Randy.”
NOW WATCH: A lawyer in Florida has come up with an ingenious way for drivers to evade drunken-driving checkpoints
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.