Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is expected to announce plans to join the party's 2016 presidential field on April 7, multiple sources inside Paul’s camp told msnbc on Tuesday. The announcement, scheduled to take place in Louisville, Kentucky, will serve as the official campaign launch for Paul, who has spent months traveling to early voting states to assess whether his largely libertarian message will catch fire with the party's conservative base.
“This will be an official announcement, not an exploratory committee," said a source close to Paul who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss his plans. “Everything will happen pretty quickly over the next couple of weeks,” another source close to Paul told msnbc.
Doug Stafford, executive director at RandPAC, Paul's political action committee, had no comment.
Paul is set to travel to the four major early voting states immediately after the announcement, aides said. He will host events in Milford, New Hampshire, April 8; Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina on April 9; Iowa City, Iowa on April 10; and Las Vegas, Nevada on April 11.
Paul, a 52-year old ophthalmologist, is the son of Ron Paul, the well-known Texas libertarian congressman who sought the presidency three times, in 1988, 2008 and 2012. The younger Paul has worked to reassemble his father's passionate supporter base while also extending his reach into more traditional Republican audiences. Rand Paul has also courted voters not traditionally allied with the GOP, including young people and African-Americans. He recently joined Democrats including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey to introduce legislation loosening federal restrictions on the use of medicinal marijuana.
Paul's campaign launch is largely dictated by the Senate calendar, his aides told msnbc. The Senate is in recess from March 30 to April 10, and GOP senators including Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida have been eyeing a possible presidential run as well.
“Part of the reason we let the dates out of bag to begin with was so other candidates won’t plan on announcing that day, we are planting the flag with that date,” a senior Paul official said.
Paul’s advance teams have been traveling to the early states doing “location work” this past week and are in Nevada today.
Paul spent last weekend in Austin, Texas, attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) tech festival. He also opened an office in Austin that will likely be part of his presidential campaign operation.
At SXSW, Paul described to Texas Tribune executive editor Evan Smith the kind of voters he is courting.
"It's not just that you're into tech that makes you may be open to our message, it's if you're part of the 'leave me alone coalition,'” Paul said. “The 'leave me alone coalition' thinks that government doesn't know everything, that government really shouldn't be telling us what to do, for the most part, and that we want to be left alone, whether it's our economic lives our personal lives.”
Asked during the discussion there whether anything could prevent him from joining the presidential field, Paul replied, "My wife. It's a work in progress." Paul and his wife Kelley have 3 sons.