Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, on Tuesday officially launched his 2016 presidential campaign, becoming the second to enter the race.
Below is the full transcript of his speech.
"I have a message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our country back.
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.
The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives must be stopped.
Less than five years ago I stood just down the road in home town in Bowling Green and said those same words. I wasn’t supposed to win, no one thought I would.
Some people asked me, then why are you running? The answer is the same now as it was then. I have a vision for America. I want to be part of a return to prosperity, a true economic boom that lists all Americans, a return to a government restrained by the Constitution.
A return to privacy, opportunity, liberty. Too often when Republicans have won we have squandered our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. That’s not who I am.
That’s not why I ran for office the first time just a few years ago. The truth is, I love my life as a small-town doctor. Every day I woke up, I felt lucky to be able to do the things I loved. More importantly, I was blessed to be able to do things that made a difference in people’s lives.
I never could have done any of this, though, without the help of my parents who are here today. I’d like you to join me and thank my mother and dad.
With my parents’ help, I was able to make it through long years of medical training to become an eye surgeon. For me there is nothing that compares with helping someone see better. Last August I was privileged to travel to Guatemala on a medical mission trip together with a team of surgeons from across the U.S.
We operated on more than 200 people who were blind or nearly blind from cataracts. I was grateful to be able to put my scrubs back on, peer into the oculars of the microscope, and focus on the task at hand, to take a surgical approach to fix a problem.
One day in Guatemala, a man arrived and told me that I’d operated on his wife the day before. His wife could see clearly for the first time in years, and she had begged him to get on the bus, travel the winding roads and come back to our surgery center. He too was nearly blind from hardened cataracts.
After his surgery, the next day, his wife sat next to me. As I unveiled the patch from his eyes, it was a powerful emotional moment for me to see them looking at each other clearly for the first time years to see the face they loved again.
As I saw the joy in their eyes, I thought, “This is why I became a doctor.”
In that moment, I also remembered my grandmother, who inspired me to become an eye surgeon. She spent hours with me as a kid. We would sort through her old coin collection, looking for wheat pennies and Indian heads. But as her vision began to fail, I became her eyes to inspect the faintness of the mint marks on the old weather-worn coins.
I went with my grandmother to the ophthalmologist as she had her corneas replaced. I was also with her when she received the sad news that macular generation had done irreparable harm to her eyes.
My hope… my hope that my grandmother would see again made me want to become an eye surgeon, to make a difference in people’s lives.
I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been able to enjoy the American Dream.
I worry, though, that the opportunity and hope are slipping away for our sons and daughters. As I watch our once-great economy collapse under mounting spending and debt, I think, “What kind of America will our grandchildren see”?
It seems to me that both parties and the entire political system are to blame.
Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration.
And it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch. President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous presidents combined.
We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security.
We can wake up now and do the right thing. Quit spending money we don’t have.
This message of liberty is for all Americans, Americans from all walks of life. The message of liberty, opportunity and justice is for all Americans, whether you wear a suit, a uniform or overalls, whether you’re white or black, rich or poor.
In order to restore America, one thing is for certain, though: We cannot, we must not dilute our message or give up on our principles.
If we nominate a candidate who is simply Democrat Light, what’s the point?
We need to boldly proclaim our vision for America. We need to go boldly forth under the banner of liberty that clutches the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other.
Washington is horribly broken. I fear it can’t be fixed from within. We the people must rise up and demand action.
Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so. Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a constitutional amendment.
I have been to Washington, and let me tell you, there is no monopoly on knowledge there.
I ran for office because we have too many career politicians. I believe it now more than ever.
We limit the President to two terms. It’s about time we limit the terms of Congress!
I want to reform Washington. I want common sense rules that will break the log-jam in Congress.
That’s why I introduced a Read the Bills Act.
The bills are thousands of pages long. And no one reads them. They are often plopped on our desks only a few hours before a vote.
I’ve proposed something truly extraordinary — Let’s read the bills, every page!
Many Americans, though, are being left behind. The reward of work seems beyond their grasp. Under the watch of both parties – the poor seem to get poorer and the rich get richer.
Trillion dollar government stimulus packages have only widened the income gap.
Politically connected cronies get taxpayer dollars by the hundreds of millions, and poor families across America continue to suffer.
I have a different vision, an ambitious vision, a vision that will offer opportunity to all Americans, especially those who have been left behind.
Liberal policies have failed our inner cities. Let’s just get the facts straight. They have failed our inner cities. Our schools are not equal and the poverty gap continues to widen.
Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as “two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side.”
In one America, people experience the opportunity of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the other America, people experience a daily ugliness. …
My trips to Detroit, Appalachia, and Chicago have revealed what I call an ‘undercurrent of unease.’
I want all our children to have the same opportunities that I had. We need to stop limiting kids in poor neighborhoods to failing public schools and offer school choice, not just for the privileged, but for everyone!
It won’t happen, though, unless we realize that we can’t borrow our way to prosperity.
In my vision for America, freedom and prosperity at home can only be achieved if we defend against enemies who are dead-set on attacking America.
The enemy is radical Islam and not only will I name the enemy, I will do what ever it takes to defend America from these haters of mankind!
We need a national defense robust enough to defend against all attack, modern enough to deter all enemies, and nimble enough to defend our vital interests.
But we also need a foreign policy that protects American interests and encourages stability, not chaos!
I envision an America with a national defense unparalleled, undefeatable, and unencumbered by overseas nation building!
I envision a national defense that promotes, as Reagan put it, “Peace through Strength.”
I believe in applying Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign policy to the Iran issue.
Successful negotiations with untrustworthy adversaries are only achieved from a position of strength.
We brought Iran to the table from strength, through sanctions I voted for.
Now we must stay strong. That’s why I co-sponsored legislation that insures that any deal between the U.S. and Iran must be approved by Congress.
Not only is that good policy, it is the law.
I will oppose any deal that does not end Iran’s nuclear ambitions and have strong verification measures. I will insist that any final version be brought before Congress.
The difference between President Obama and myself-he seems to think you can negotiate from a position of weakness.
We must realize, though, that we do not project strength by borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan.
Let’s quit building bridges in foreign countries and use that money to build some bridges here at home!
It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting death to America in countries that receive millions of dollars of our foreign aid.
I say it must end. I say not one penny more to these haters of America!
Today begins the journey to take back America, to rescue a great country, now adrift.
If you love liberty, stand with me!
If you want to defeat the Washington machine, stand with me!
God bless you. God bless America."
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