Republican Sen. Rand Paul may be the most high-profile physician with libertarian leanings to jump into the 2016 presidential race, but he's not the first. The Kentucky ophthalmologist was beaten to the punch by Dr. Marc Feldman, a full-time anesthesiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Feldman, who filed his papers as a Libertarian Party candidate in January, is one of more than 230 people who have already registered with the Federal Election Commission to run for the White House.
Feldman, 55, never imagined becoming a politician even though he grew up in Washington. He didn't even register to vote until he was 50. “I was never a very political person,” Feldman told Modern Healthcare. “I felt that 'politician' was another word for 'liar.' ”
That changed in 2010 when he stumbled across the Libertarian Party, a fiscally conservative, socially liberal group that cheers for more limited government. That year, Feldman ran for Ohio attorney general. While he raised no money in that campaign, he won nearly 3% of the vote.
Feldman's top priority as president would be to eliminate the “corrupting” influence of large donations to campaigns. He's pledged not to accept any money from corporations or political action committees, and the most any individual can give his campaign is $5.
On healthcare policy, he says the Affordable Care Act has some positives, such as protecting patients with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage. But under his administration, he would audit the ACA to see if it's meeting its goals. He believes the findings would ultimately show the need to “defund” the law.
Feldman's campaign is fairly low profile—his wife found out two weeks after he announced his run on Facebook. But he's hoping to appeal to the 40% of voting-eligible Americans who sat out the 2012 election.
“If I can get a significant portion of those people who feel disenfranchised, then there's no limit to how successful I can be,” Feldman said.