February 9th, 2014
09:29 AM ET
6 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. ErnieS

    Is there anyone who the GOP haven't alienated? Oh yeah... Old, Fat, White guys. Good luck with that.

    February 10, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Phil in KC

    Texas wasn't always a red state. Let's not forget that LBJ, Lloyd Bentsen, Sam Rayburn, John Connally, Paul Begala and Ann Richards, just to name a few, are all from Texas. I would love to see it turn blue again.

    February 10, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Ovawendon

    If Republicans want to succeed they need to stop being so abusive and cruel to those who have less than they do. They have done zero to make things better for our country in the last 6 years, they have blocked every reasonable attempt to do so, they have removed food from children and the elderly, they have put people on the streets without homes, and so much more. Then they have the nerve to say those people are lazy and don't deserve the same opportunities as anyone else. They also seem to feel that we have to live the way they want us to live, but, excuse me, this is America where we are free to choose. I plan to choose anyone but a republican in the next elections.

    February 10, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Rememberwhatbushdid

    Rand Paul is an arrogant know-it-all and is always condescending. He's right about Texas...and hopefully it comes sooner than he thinks. Like in 2016. A state that gives America Rick Perry and Ted Cruz is a laughing stock. The people there just don't know it yet. And Paul hangs-on to ideas long after they have been proven to be false...like his lap-dog acceptance of the sophistry of FOX "News" on Benghazi. There isn't another news organization or government study in anywhere else in the world that agrees with Paul and FOX. That's because the truth gets in the way of their partisan ranting.

    February 10, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. Steve

    Hoping TX does go blue. Gun violence usually follows dark blue areas. Might be fun to watch the gun haters followers (gangs with illegal guns) take on the TX gun owners. My money in TX is on the legal gun owners. Hoping they slaughter the punks.

    February 10, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Hogan's Goat

    You couldn't scrub the nasty off this guy with a wire brush. He's meaner than a weasel. I wouldn't hire him to mow my lawn, never mind running my state.
    Seriously, the GOP should have been around for decades more. These people are killing it.

    February 10, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. moe smith

    so, what we are hearing is that Texas is getting an influx of some intelligent people. bravo!

    February 10, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Old_Hippie

    Note to working class republicans, you are second class citizens within your own party. You will continue to receive your crumbs from the business class as they see fit. Toe the line or be cut off.

    February 10, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. Nietodarwin

    I'm dreaming of a BLUE TEXAS !!!

    February 10, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. Gator

    That's what happens when you don't control the borders.

    February 10, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. Dennis Knicely

    In order to survive, the Republican party will have to completely revamp objectives. Instead of party looking at how present legislation affects future generations, their platform has deteriorated to a "best that money can buy" agenda supporting the mega military buildup that Dwight Eisenhower, a fellow Republican, warned against. We also cannot sustain ourselves by supporting unsustainable energy policies based on campaign contributions [Keystone pipeline as example] when clean green alternatives are a mandate for survival as a healthy Planet. Commons sense legislation trumps big money interests, something both major parties need to reflecrt on. It is time for a referendum, voting out "Tea Party oil interests" and replace the crusty old "status quo conservatism" with a truly conservative supporting conservationist ideals.

    February 10, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. TurnTexasBlue

    I've been praying we would turn since I was 18 – - 15 years now! IT WOULD BE AWESOME!! (still too many rural GOP faithful, though...)

    February 10, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Figures

    Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.. Texas... Blue... Bwahahahahahahaha

    February 10, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. bill

    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.” -- thanks to the GOP and their base, that's not even a message they send to Americans. It's more like "sorry, we shipped your job overseas to save a nickel. Now if you don't mind I'm going to go complain that you don't like to work at Walmart to my rich buddies."

    February 10, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. 'NOTHER-SON-'O-URSUS

    Re: “Texas will be a Democratic state within 10 years if you don't change.” {Ran Paul}

    Republicans have two very real choices:

    1.) They can STOP telling me/us, (American voters), what I/we may, OR may NOT do in our bedrooms, (with and w/o other, consenting adults), and…
    STOP telling us what to do, per our definition of what is/is NOT ‘religious’ morality, (until/unless they begin to follow ‘some variety’ of religious morality!), and perhaps…

    After some time to get that dirty taste (of profiteering wars, etc.), out of our, (‘voter’s’), mouths…
    They’ll begin seeing (positive) election results again!

    Or…

    2.) They can continue along their present ‘imaginary’ morality crusade’ path…
    Imaginary because American society has moved on, (by several ‘light-year’s’ distance), from the imaginary ‘leave-it-to-beaver’ 1950’s soap-opera-fantasy…
    And feel wonderful ‘bout themselves, (despite their religio-politically distorted Christianity)!
    Republicans may well go down ‘fighting’ what they, (and NOONE else!), call the ‘good fight’, (…permanent war, women, gays & racial minorities returned to their 1950 3rd class citizenship-status, aka, racism, sexism & homophobia returning as ‘official’ policy),…

    And continue expressing their feelings via ‘concession’ speeches/congratulations to their political rivals, as these same rivals march, solemnly, to their inauguration(s)…

    Barack O’Bama being but, one, classical example of these ‘trending’ phenomena!

    February 10, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. anonnomus

    This is absolutely a possibility! How can the GOP continue to ignore the immigration problem? Yes, we need to make our borders as secure as possible. But we also need to address the human tragedy of 12 million plus illegal immigrants who are here, living amongst us, contributing to our society, but demonized by being illegal. These are human beings! We need to address this issue head on and quit side stepping it. We are alienating the fastest growing ethnic portion of our population, and that is particularly true in Texas! How dumb can someone be?

    February 10, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. kitjer

    Our state is gerrymandered red. Look at the population centers and how they vote, then see how the cities are districted out into the more conservative counties. This is the state of old yellow dog Democrats (many who are still good old boy iconoclasts, who are more about 'live and let live unless it costs me' ;)), moderate Latinos, and more blue African Americans – not to mention really strong, pioneering women. That cross-section has managed a front, until the serious redistricting of the last 25 years. Until gerrymandering is addressed, sadly my state will remain a false, manufactured battleground 'won' by the GOP.

    February 10, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. Jim

    We have to get beyond Obama and then enforce the constitution according to law. Left face it the system has been broken for so long and so many deadbeats occupy our country we truly are screwed!

    February 10, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. capnmike

    “We need a more diverse party. We need a party that looks like America.”...then you do NOT need Republicans.

    February 10, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. sly

    America is already Blue, as our nation now embarks on a progressive path. These are great times for America as we have ended 2 Bush Oil wars, removed the ban on health care for 50 million citizens, brought our federal deficit to the lowest level in 50 years as a percent of spending, and our stock market is at the all time high.

    Thank you President Obama for restoring integrity and success to our great nation. Texan's have brains, and see this, and of course they will turn that state into a blue state.

    February 10, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. tstorm92

    Oh dear God! You mean Texas might become a "free" state????

    February 10, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Aged P

    Republicans can talk all they want about becoming more inclusive, but until they stop voting for measures that hurt the majority of Americans nobody will believe them. They've made their beds, so they can sleep in them.

    February 10, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. v2787

    Hey Rand: the response from your audience was tepid because they were merely being polite to you. The vast majority of today's republicans have little or no interest in welcoming anyone into their party who isn't white, straight, and Christian, especially in Texas. And that's why the right wing is going to be a nonfactor in a few years. Get used to it–the far right is imploding under the weight of their own xenophobia and regressive worldview.

    February 10, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Pest

    I have to wonder how Mitt got 6% of the black vote.

    February 10, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    “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 need a more diverse party. We need a party that looks like America.” What Paul clearly doesn't get is the REAL problem with the Republican party is EXACTLY because of the beliefs that he doesn't want to give up on and NOT by being "welcoming" or having more faces of color in the party. You can't win over party members just by serving tea and cookies and smiling a lot. Paul, like Reince Priebus is all about cosmetics and not about substance. And the substance of Rand Paul's ideas and those of the GOP are the REAL problem. They are out of touch with the majority of Americans.

    February 10, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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