Capitalizing on a hearty distrust of government and an anti-Republican-establishment fervor among conservatives, he has used the Internet to raise more than $1.3 million since he began his campaign in August.
“This primary is really about the future of our party,” said Dr. Paul, 46, who has lived in Kentucky since 1993 and has never run for public office before.
“The Republican platform specifically says we don’t believe in bailing out private business, and yet we did,” Dr. Paul said in a break between cataract operations. “The Republican platform also specifically says we don’t believe in government ownership of private businesses, and yet a lot of Republicans voted for that.”
Dr. Paul has seen a surge in popularity and fund-raising in the last several months, setting the stage for what pundits here say could be one of the most expensive and competitive primary contests in state history.
A fervent opponent of big government, Dr. Paul believes that federal authorities should stay out of drug enforcement, and that same-sex marriage, which he opposes, should be a decision left to the states. He supports gun rights and thinks abortions should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the pregnant woman is at stake. Unlike his father, Dr. Paul opposes all legislative earmarks, even those that might benefit his constituents.
“I consider myself a constitutional conservative and a part of the insurgency that’s going on out there,” he said.
“Mr. Paul believes we should close Guantánamo and return those terrorists to Afghanistan; Kentucky voters would not agree,” he said. “Mr. Paul believes federal authorities should not have a role in drug enforcement, but Kentucky voters know we have a drug problem here in the state, and they certainly would disagree with that, too.”