PolitiChicks presents #FutureFirstLady, a series on the wives of presidential candidates.
Kelley Ashby Paul is the wife of presidential candidate and current Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Kelley was born in 1963 in Russellville, Kentucky to a military family. Describing herself as an “Air Force brat,” Kelley spent much of her early life moving around the country. She attended Rhodes College in Tennessee where Kelley studied English and communication.
Before meeting her future political doctoral husband, Kelley moved to Atlanta working for Sprint Telecommunication Company. Rand was also in Atlanta doing a surgical internship at Georgia Baptist Hospital. The two met in 1988 at a backyard oyster roast in Atlanta. Looking to branch out and meet new people after her friend left the party, Kelley met a few girls from the University of Georgia. From afar, Rand would then approach the beautiful blond haired blue eye Kelley and the two began to talk. “I thought he was cute,” Kelley said with a huge smile on her face telling the story how they first met. “And he was very interesting and we began talking about his favorite writer Dostoyevsky. I thought he was smart and cute, but I also thought he looked 18 years old, so I kind of blew him off.” (In fact, Rand was 26 years old at that time while Kelley was 25).
And then one moment occurred that would ultimately be the beginning of forever for two people. Later in the evening, there was an accident where some girls fell backwards from a deck. “I saw Rand over there where the situation occurred and some girl said it is a good think we have doctors from Georgia Baptist Hospital in this party,” Kelley said. “And I was what! I thought [Rand] was 18, he is a doctor!” After the incident, Kelley goes on telling the story of how girls began to surround him and how she had to “fight her way” to make sure to let every girl in the party know that Rand was hers for the taking. From there, the two rekindle their prior conversation leading to Rand asking Kelley for a date that occurred the next day.
Two years later the couple married in 1990 and moved to Durham, North Carolina, where Kelley worked in the communications industry and Rand completed his medical training at Duke. They would eventually move to Bowling Green, Kentucky where Kelley grew up to raise their three sons – William (now 22 years old), Duncan (19), and Robert (16).
Once settling into their new lives together, Rand would build a successful practice as an eye surgeon. By 2010, Rand political ambitions would take place when he was elected into the U.S. Senate in Kentucky. Five years later the campaign for liberty would ignite into the fuel for his run for the presidency. When asked how she felt of Rand’s presidential bid, Kelley told PolitiChicks she was first hesitant due to the character assassination in campaigns where millions are spent aimed at Rand and his family. Now Kelley is fully on board, being active on the campaign trail while helping her husband with his campaign speeches. Kelley was the only wife that would introduce her husband during his presidential announcement bid as well as starring in a heart-warming campaign video that introduce her husband called “Kelley’s words.”
When Rand told Kelley he wanted to run for president, she said she was “full of trepidation.” “There was a part of me who was a little overwhelmed by the idea of doing this but at the same time I feel like Rand has so much to offer,” Kelley said. “I felt like Rand had something substantive to bring to the race for people to hear and I am very proud of Rand and his stance on these issues and so many others. I didn’t want to let my own kind of fears such as the spotlight stand in the way of Rand to do something I knew that he could be great at and I felt that his message is something people should hear so I am very proud to stand and support Rand through this race.”
Kelley adds, “In just the five short years as a Senator and how well he has become well known because of his different voice by bringing attention to a lot of issues Republicans have not talked about like Criminal Justice reform such as the unfairness of our drug laws and mandatory minimums.”
On the campaign trail, Kelley said so far it has been going good and she enjoys making the most of it by meeting tons of people and connecting with them as well. “We are definitely with this campaign are going to make some surprises, surprise a few people on primary day,” Kelley said.
As for the surprises, Kelley describes how her husband differs from the other candidates and its makes him unique that will surprise a lot of people come February. “Rand has a unique voice in the Republican party and in the debate,“ Kelley said. “He is the only one that is really talking about issues that the other candidates aren’t talking such as looking at what really happens when we topple a secular dictatorship around the world and our involvement.”
Kelley continues to add how her husband voice resonates with the younger voters. “Rand has a different voice and that really resonates with a lot of people, especially with the younger people who in the past never showed up to the polls and now they will partake in this election just solely for Rand.”
Talking about the last Fox Business debate in which relegated Rand into the “kiddie table” undercard stage, Kelley describes how that day gave Rand more attention through TV media appearance and social media than most of the candidates on stage. Recalling recent events of when Rand found out he would not be participating in the main stage debate like he has in the past five debates, he decided to not partake in the undercard debate and to boycott the entire event. On debate day, while the other candidates were in South Carolina for the debate, Rand was in New York City partaking in multiple media appearances as well as a twitter town hall during the actual debate airtime. During the two and a half hour debate, Rand received the second highest number of new followers on Twitter and was trending as well. Kelley said all this is evidence that Rand is appealing to the younger demographic. This, is turn, Kelley states put Rand campaign well positioned for Iowa and New Hampshire to surprise a lot of people who underestimate her husband’s chances of pulling an upset in the early voting states.
Were she to become the future First Lady, Kelley stated she would focus her goals on Veterans issues. Growing up in a military family, Kelley considers herself a air force brat with her father serving the Air Force, her two brothers in the military and her three nephews serving active duty in the navy right now. “With all these decades of wars that we are seeing ourselves in and I have gotten to know several wounded veterans and their wives and some of these veterans had significant amputations, and wheelchair bound both in D.C. and back home in Kentucky and I feel like that our country needs to do more to support the veterans and their families,” Kelley said. “We need to reform in our VA system. I think not necessary from a policy standpoint, but I would want to shine a spotlight on all of what our service members do for our country and make people more aware of the sacrifice they do and make.”
Currently in her home state, Kelley has been active in an organization called ‘Helping a Hero’ where they build adapted homes for wounded war veterans. For the past four years, Kelley has been a part of in this amazing organization, serving on the advisory board.
Kelley ended the interview sharing a story about how the organization helped build a home for a young retired Army Sgt. J.D. Williams and his wife. She pointed out how Rand joined forces with a Kentucky Democratic congressman doing a golf tournament to raise funds for the organization.
“This organization has really opened my eyes to the challenges that some of our veterans are facing,” Kelley said.
— Kelley Paul (@KelleyAshbyPaul) January 23, 2016
Check out Kelley new book entitled, True and Constant Friends: Love and Inspirations form Our Grandmothers, Mothers, and Friends.
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