TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback jumped into the 2008 presidential race Saturday, a favorite of the religious right now in an uphill battle against better-known rivals for the GOP nomination.
“I am a conservative and I’m proud of being a conservative,” he proclaimed.
“My family and I are taking the first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House. It’s a great journey,” the two-term senator told hundreds of supporters. He pledged to fight on behalf of the nation’s cultural values and to focus on rebuilding families.
The 50-year-old Brownback offers himself as a “full-scale Ronald Reagan conservative.”
After Saturday’s speech, he told reporters: “My positions are at the heart of where the Republican Party is. I’m willing to take those positions with all comers.”
Brownback’s announcement, planned weeks ago, came hours after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., entered her party’s 2008 race with a posting on her Web site with little prior notice.
“I don’t know why she did that. I guess she’s scared of me,” Brownback said.
The Democratic National Committee issued a statement calling Brownback “a stubborn ideologue who places his own political agenda over the needs of the American people.”
While Brownback touched on a wide variety of issues, he laced his speech with the themes that have made him a leader of GOP conservatives and a strong spokesman in Congress for socially conservative Christians.
A fierce foe of abortion, Brownback planned to return to Washington for an anti-abortion rally Monday. Brownback also opposes embryonic stem-cell research and gay marriage.
In his announcement, Brownback said the country needs to support the traditional definition of marriage and said most Americans believe in “a culture of life.”
He pledged never to sign a tax increase if elected president and said the current income tax law “should be taken behind the barn and killed with a dull ax.”