U.S. Senator Rand Paul opposes a national law banning same-sex couples and federal penalties for drug offenders. He's said there could be "thousands of exceptions" to any abortion ban. And the Kentucky Republican questions the costs of federal farm subsidies.
For many of the evangelical Christians and abortion-rights opponents who dominate Iowa's Republican presidential caucuses, the traditional first round of primary season voting, those positions are unacceptable. These voters backed former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania in 2012 and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in 2008, leading voices of the party's religious wing.
Yet that's the audience Paul, 50, will address tonight as the ophthalmologist and first-term lawmaker starts what amounts to a presidential exploratory tour that's bucking party orthodoxy as he mulls a 2016 bid and seeks to expand his base beyond the limited-government Tea Party movement.