February 9th, 2014
09:29 AM ET
7 months ago

Rand Paul warns his former home state, Texas, could turn blue

(CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul on Saturday made a prediction that plenty of Democrats would love to see come true, but Republicans hope to avoid: “Texas will be a Democratic state within 10 years if you don't change.”

The Kentucky Republican, who was in Houston at a dinner with GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, continued to push his message for change within the Republican Party, bringing that gospel straight to one of the most reliably red states in the country and his former home.

“That doesn't mean we give up on what we believe in, but it means we have to be a more welcoming party,” Paul said. “We have to welcome people of all races. We need to welcome people of all classes - business class, working class.”

That diversity is needed not just along ethnic lines, but in appearances, too, he said.

“We need to have people with ties and without ties, with tattoos and without tattoos; with earrings, without earrings,” he said. “We need a more diverse party. We need a party that looks like America.”

Paul grew up in the Houston area, where his father, Ron Paul, was an obstetrician who later went on to become a longtime congressman and three-time presidential candidate. Rand Paul went to Baylor University in Waco.

He has been one of the most outspoken elected officials aggressively trying to reshape the party’s image. He joins the Republican National Committee, which has spent millions in the past year to reconstruct its outreach to minorities.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, won only 6% of the African-American vote, 26% of the Asian vote, and 27% of the Latino vote.

With the success of some Democratic Latino elected officials in Texas - such as Rep. Joaquin Castro and his brother, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro - and the meteoric rise of state Sen. Wendy Davis, who’s running for governor this year, Texas is starting to gather steam as a potential pickup for Democrats down the road. Davis still has a sharp uphill fight in actually winning the race, but her star power indicates a louder, more vocal Democratic base exists in the state.

One organization, Battleground Texas, has as its mission to make the state up for grabs, which hasn’t happened on a presidential ballot since 1976, when Texas narrowly voted for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford.

Paul said he’s encouraged by people like George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. George P. Bush is half Mexican and speaks fluent Spanish. He’s running for Texas land commissioner and has been part of efforts to expand the Hispanic Republican base in the state.

“I think having people who are trying to make the party bigger is good,” Paul told CNN’s Peter Hamby on Friday after meeting with Bush. “The party has to be bigger across the country, not only appealing to people of various ethnic background but various economic backgrounds."

Speaking Saturday night at the dinner, Paul stressed that the country’s top immigration priority should be border security but said the party needs to have a “better attitude” when talking about resolving the country’s broken immigration system.

“People who are Hispanic or Latino, they have to believe that we want them in our party, so it is an attitude thing as much as it is policy,” he said.

One of those messages, he said, should be: “If you want to work and you want a job and want to be part of America, we will find a place for you.”

His line drew mild applause from the audience.

“That was kind of tepid,” he said.


Filed under: Rand Paul • Republicans • Texas
soundoff (576 Responses)
  1. GO_GOP

    I do not agree with him. We need to be more of what we are strong at and not try and copy paste some liberal mantra. We are strong at defending the constitution, being a true Christian party, being pro business and anti immigrant. We need to stick to that. We do not need Latino votes to win in my state, Texas. We need to be a truly Tea Party influenced party. Tea Party 2016.

    February 10, 2014 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  2. san

    A Zebra can't change its stripes and neither can Republican's. They are what they are. The Republican Party has fallen on the dark side of the cliff, they have lost their way and no longer serve the majority of the American People. There is not one Republican in office now deserving of your vote, not one. The absolute last line they crossed, was, suppressing the votes in a number of states, This is America, we do not suppress the vote. Just who do they think they are? This is AMERICA we DO NOT SUPPRESS the VOTE. You do not try to take Rights away from Women, what the heck is wrong with a political Party that wants to take Rights away from Women. What are they thinking.. Out with the whole lot, there is not one Republican in office deserving of your vote, not one!.

    February 10, 2014 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  3. thinktwice

    When I think of progressive values I think of community ideals where people help each other, not just their neighbors but the folks across town and in the next county or even those who live clear across the country from us. I keep hearing about conservative values, but no one ever gets specific on what those values are. Hard work? Liberals believe in that too. Families are important . Liberals believe in that too. Belief in God most liberals believe also, and there are plenty of conservative atheists. That line "conservative values " is just a nice feel good phrase to get people into supporting the Republican Party. Do most conservatives believe that the economic system should be set up to protect the wealthy, and repress the poor? Is it a conservative value that higher education should only be for the wealthy? It is a conservative value that the corporations can pour billions of dollars into campaigns so that they can control legislation? Is it a conservative value that some people can make more money in one day that others can make in a life time? Is it a conservative value that promotes an aristocracy of wealth rather than an aristocracy of talent.

    February 10, 2014 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  4. nat

    The Republicans have no idea how the people live and how the people struggle to continue to live in America. The Repubs live in a dream, (in a bubble) of how America should be then in reality of how America truly is... To the Repubs the people are only a percentage of a statistic...

    February 10, 2014 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  5. Steve

    Paul doesn't get it. Its about IDEAS. If you want a more inclusive Republican Party, it has to be willing to accept people who alternative ideas and ideals. Appearances and classifications DON'T MATTER. Republicans always make the mistake of thinking that they can serve the same old crap sandwich, and it will be palatable if they just add a piece of lettuce. The crap sandwich is not going to sell, no matter how you dress it up. When there is a true LIBERAL wing of the Republican Party, THEN you will gain traction. Until then, you are just the old white men's dying club.

    February 10, 2014 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  6. mickinmd

    It's not just a question of the GOP welcoming minorities, it's a question of the GOP welcoming the non-rich and abandoning the southern-originated Boss Hogg mentality that the wealthy have to the non-wealthy's best interests at heart. The wealthys' main interest that the GOP promotes is how to keep increasing the top 1% share of America's income which has risen from 9% in the 70's to 24% now.

    February 10, 2014 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  7. steve

    That's nice. Too late, won't get this middle aged white guy to come back to your party, you're hosed.

    February 10, 2014 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  8. tm

    It's a tough sell to have the poor support the republican party when so many of its policies DISADVANTAGE that interest group. You don't have that addiction to the 9/11 liquored up punch bowl that they used to which the neocons played like a violin to give republicans a lock on the south & the presidency for 8 years. That said, Texas going democrat? Maybe the statehouse, but not the local districts. Gerrymandering for decades make it impossible.. Texas could have as little as 100,000 republicans left statewide and still eek out victories in a majority of the TX legislature.

    February 10, 2014 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  9. Jim Rome

    Republicans shouldn't worry. Just take care of this list of boo-boos, and you'll be on the way to recovery.

    1) ALEC
    2) 26 BILLION dollar Republican shutdown
    3) Liz Cheney screaming for war in Iran
    4) Liz Cheney screaming for war in Libya
    5) Liz Cheney screaming for war in Syria
    6) Liz Cheney screaming for war in the Sudan
    7) Chris Christie shut down of the world's busiest bridge for two days and says he didn't know about it, even though a major city mayor said he called him three times.
    8) 45 failed attempts to repeal Obamacare
    9) Refusal to vote on job stimulus packages
    10) Screaming BENGHAZI every six minutes, with no mention of the 13 Benghazi's under bush, killing 98 people.

    February 10, 2014 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  10. Cynthia Avishegnath

    I think he is also hinting – don't exclude gays from the umbrella of "conservative" politics.

    February 10, 2014 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  11. Kenneth Thomas

    It is our objective as Democrats to make Texas "blue." More Texans would be better represented by the Democratic Party than by the Republicans. Make the Republican party more inclusive, more in tune with what women voters want, and a promoter of immigration reform acceptable to most Texans and the the Republicans might be worth a look. Right now all they have is gerrymandering.

    February 10, 2014 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  12. Mel Stricker

    What Rand Paul is saying is quite an indictment of the Republicans. The list of people ignored by the Republicans represents just about anyone who is not rich. Also, how do the Republicans become inclusive and keep the religious right?The people only wishes to associate with people with extreme ideas. When you have Republican politicians saying the Earth is 6,000 years old, you know that this party is filled with extreme views.

    The Republicans have called for inclusion before. The Republicans will NEVER be inclusive.

    February 10, 2014 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Texas is already blue , because of who they elected.

    February 10, 2014 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  14. Steve

    Socialism is ruining America.

    February 10, 2014 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  15. SouthernFriedInfidel

    Yes, it would be a tragedy if the will of the people were to put YOUR party out of favor, wouldn't it? Something must be done to stop that, right?

    February 10, 2014 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  16. dan

    The mean-spirited, mostly white Republicans are a dying breed. They can't accept society's changes fast enough, and that's going to be their death knell.

    February 10, 2014 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  17. Dan

    So he admits the Republican Party does not represent all Americans..

    "That doesn't mean we give up on what we believe in, but it means we have to be a more welcoming party,” Paul said. “We have to welcome people of all races. We need to welcome people of all classes – business class, working class.”

    February 10, 2014 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  18. American

    Republicans/conservatives (same thing) are people who like to inflict harsh punishments on lawbreakers, yet insist on special treatment when they break the law themselves. These are the people who speak of personal liberty, yet have no qualms about using the government to force their views on others. These are the people who speak of personal responsibility, yet all they ever do is blame (formerly) disenfranchised minorities. These are the people whose political platform has, for the last 60 years, revolved around sabotage, deception, manipulation, repetition, sensationalism, scapegoating, and outright lies. They would never break bread with me. They would rather cross the street than talk to me and discover that I am human.

    And as this century drags Republicans kicking and screaming toward history's gallows, the rest of the world watches in gleeful anticipation of the moment when fate's cold axe severs the Republican party's dark spirit from existence. A peaceful glow envelops the Earth; that shrill, blood-curdling, obscenity-laden scream turns to whimper, then to whisper, then to echo, and finally disappears into the background static forever.

    February 10, 2014 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  19. steve

    we need to get people with tattoos and ear piercings... thats what is wrong with the republican party! it definitely isn't that we are trying to socially demonize homosexuals, or cut any and every social program that is part of the government while we give huge tax breaks to our corporate buddies.
    if you want more variety in your party... you're going to have to move way left. because right now you guys went so far right that you're falling over the edge.

    February 10, 2014 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  20. steve

    "that was kind of tepid" yeah Rand... thats because your message has been "we hate immigrants, black people and gays" for ages, and now you want all of the nut jobs you attracted with that message to welcome those people into the party?

    February 10, 2014 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  21. tbone

    Rand Paul like his dad is always crooning for a camera.

    February 10, 2014 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  22. Dave

    It's good that the Repubs are finally starting to understand this. Alienating large chunks of the voters is not a strategy for success.

    February 10, 2014 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  23. Al Mahany

    Ten years? Try one year. As in Governor Wendy Davis!

    February 10, 2014 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  24. TYANNASAURUS

    Rand Paul is an idiot and trying to scare the bible backs back into line because some of them are starting to think for themselves.....and they don´t like what they see happening in Texas....like in going backwards to the far distant past as a reality for living in the 21 st century.

    February 10, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  25. jimmy rouse

    President Obama has all but destroyed the GOP. I don't doubt that all states will go Blue due to the ineptness of the GOP. The Republicans would rather fight among themselves than take on the Democrats.

    February 10, 2014 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
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