Libertarian darling Rand Paul (R-KY) has become the first Presidential candidate to accept bitcoin donations, partially in an attempt to appeal to the tech community. Paul officially announced his intention to run for the GOP nomination on April 7.
High-Profile Presidential Candidate
Along with the campaign announcement, Paul's campaign website was predictably launched and it included bitcoin donations. The BTC donation option was first reported by CNN Money. Paul is expected to be a major force in the Republican Primaries and is one of the favorites to win the Republican nomination.
Paul is quickly becoming a regular face in the Republican primary debates, but this year he seems to have some momentum behind him, as younger conservatives tend to favor Paul's libertarian views over the more Neo-conservative views of most other Republican candidates.
Paul is also the son of perennial Presidential candidate Ron Paul, who was a staple in the Republican debates until his retirement from politics in early 2013. Something that should be noted, and has been missed by media outlets with shorter memories, is that the elder Paul was a pioneer of using the internet to fund election campaigns.
Long before Barack Obama made headlines as the first Presidential candidate to use social media to raise money during his reelection campaign, online supporters dropped US$4.2 million into Ron Paul's coffers, turning him from a languishing candidate at the bottom of the polls to a consistent top three candidate who led in the polls for a short time in the next election.
Now his son, Rand, is trying to do the same with Bitcoin. He is not the first American political candidate to accept bitcoin, and there is even a Swedish politician that only took bitcoin, but he is the first of this magnitude to jump on the bitcoin bandwagon.
The pairing makes a lot sense. There are three predominant stereotypes for Bitcoin users: geeks, criminals and libertarian types. Like most stereotypes, they oversimplify things to the point of misrepresentation, but there is no doubt that the libertarian segment of the Bitcoin community is strong.
Rand Paul may be attempting to tap into that Libertarian streak of the Bitcoin community. He (or someone at his campaign) likely believes his message may resonate with that section of the community as the Libertarian political party began accepting bitcoin last year.
Paul hasn't made any recent public statements about Bitcoin, but he was asked about the currency in 2014. In answering the question, he showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the digital currency, but he at least seemed to have some awareness of its capability and use, which likely puts him ahead of most of his contemporaries in Washington.
He is a strong anti-regulation candidate, which will make him popular with bitcoin companies and advocates who are against government regulation of bitcoin. However, that anti-regulation streak also extends to his stance on Net Neutrality, which, as the CNN Money reporter points out, will likely hurt his chances with the rest of the tech community.
Rand Paul's office is closed at press time and there was no contact email on his site. We will call for comment when they open back up and will update this space if necessary.Update: We have left a message at Senator Paul's office, and will update this space again if necessary.
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