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Presidential hopeful Rand Paul draws 'NDN' supporter on Twitter

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on the campaign trail in Nevada. Photo from Facebook

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) wants to eliminate the Bureau of Indian Affairs and slash funding for the Indian Health Service but his 2016 presidential campaign has drawn at least one Native supporter online.

Twitter user NDN For Rand sent out its first message on April 7, the same day Paul announced his run for the White House. But so far there haven't been any substantive tweets explaining why Native voters should support the Republican candidate whose 2011 budget proposal called for massive cuts to Indian programs.

It's not clear who is behind the account or whether it is supported by the Paul campaign. The only other Twitter user who has employed the "#NDN4Rand" hashtag is Jason Gatties, a member and employee of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians who ran for office in Michigan last year as a Natural Law candidate and in 2012 as an Independent.

Hilary Clinton. Photo from Facebook

Gatties, not surprisingly, said he was suffering from "terrible heartburn" after former Secretary of State and former Senator Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign on Sunday. During her 2008 run, she was endorsed by several prominent Indian leaders and is likely to draw strong support in Indian Country as the front-runner among Democrats.

Clinton, however, fell behind then-Senator Barack Obama when it came to outreach in Indian Country. During the 2008 primary season, he came out with specific Indian policy goals and was the first to campaign on a reservation ahead of Clinton.

Then-Crow Chairman Carl Venne introduces then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) at a rally on the Crow Reservation in Montana. Robert Old Horn is on the left. May 19, 2008
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) visited the Crow Reservation in Montana. File Photo © Lise King/The Native Voice

After winning the Democratic nomination and, eventually, the general election President Obama nominated his former rival to run the Department of State. During Clinton's tenure, the U.S. announced its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, reversing course from the prior administration.

Clinton left the Obama administration in February 2013 without finalizing work on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline that tribes nationwide oppose. But the State Department's stance about the route in Nebraska -- which would cross the Ponca Trail of Tears that the Ponca Tribe was forced to walk -- has effectively kept the project in limbo.

Paul, like nearly every Republican politician, supports the pipeline. Tribes are worried about its impact on water sources, sacred sites, the environment and treaty lands.

Get the Story:
'NDN For Rand': Senator Rand Paul Seeks Native American Supporters via Twitter (Indian Country Today 4/9)
Clinton strikes populist tone in long-awaited campaign announcement (The Washington Post 4/13)
Hillary Clinton Starts to Detail Rationale for Run as Campaign Begins (The New York Times 4/13)

Related Stories:
Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul targeted BIA & IHS (4/8)
Indian school construction put back on track with latest budget (02/03)
Obama requests big increase in Bureau of Indian Affairs budget (2/2)
Indian Health Service tops $5B mark with new budget proposal (02/02)
Budget seeks small boost in funding for Office of Special Trustee (02/02)
Sen. Paul proposes to eliminate all funding for BIA, cut IHS in half (02/09)

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