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. Tim

    “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 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. danomite

    After enduring years of ridicule over GWB, Perry, and Cruz, Texas voters may finally be wising up.

    February 10, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Mexican

    ALL STATES WILL BE BLUE EVENTUALLY. I think that Government should continue to have free open borders, expand government in size, and entitlements are required. It does not matter if this president spends another 10 TRILLION dollars, we need to keep spending, increase entitlements, and leave the borders fully open.

    February 10, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. Greg

    Republicans in Texas still worry about the Latino "invasion", are preoccupied with abortion, do a poor job on air and water quality and education (essentially surrendering authority to the courts), gaining control over public institutions (high profile fight over UT is a regular stable in the papers), expanding gun rights laws, etc... Abbot's big plan is to militerize the border. We have public pension issues wtih police, firefighters especially, coastal erosion problems, water quality issues in our lakes, rivers, and bays, aging sewers/infrastructure, lagging eduction performance, many jobs created but overwhemling low pay, resistance to public transportion such as rail, development that is causing loss of wetlands, farmland, forests, contaminated soil with tabled clean up, etc... in other words, there are lots of basic issues not being addressed. The current GOPers are more interested in partisan issues instead of working on the bread and butter issues that impact peoples lives. They flourish through extreme gerrymandering that will work for only so long. It's very unhealthy for a party to govern on that basis because it allows them (whichever party) to remain out of touch, to govern for a small activist portion of the electorate that votes in the primaries (given that so many races are predetermined in regards to R or D). Competative races keep parties accountable to a broader section of the electorate and help to avoid the increasingly out of touch bent of the Texas GOP.

    February 10, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Thomas

    How do you say 'boo-hoo' in Spanish?

    February 10, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. SickandTired

    People really have no clue what is going on here in Texas. The state seems to be turning colors, but it is mainly based on the LARGE number of people from both parties (mainly young conservatives) turning into Libertarians. People in Texas are realizing that regardless which party is in office, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, all while the middle class foots the bill, while they distract us with social issues. People see things like the inevitability of Gay Marriage, Guns, Abortion, etc should not be regulated or paid for by the government. We want or right to choose what we do with our lives, bodies, and kids, without consent of crooked lying politicians. I am sure a democrat will win an election or two, and the media will sell it as the state is turning, it is turning alright, turning into a state tired of what is happening in Washington and Austin!

    February 10, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Robert Davis

    The GOP will say whatever it takes to win support. I don't believe the party can hide its overall ideology in order to fool people int believing that they have changed from the party of the 1%. They are puppets of the Koch foundations.

    February 10, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. georgex9

    Yes, the Republicans need to stop saying that Latinos are the takers looking for food stamps. And stop saying that company bosses can tell their employees that they can't have the ACA contraception. Make voters think that the huge campaign donors are really just small donations and that these donors just want lower taxes and less regulations. That no regulations doesn't mean taking advantage of the people and lend to dangerous pollution and ingredients.
    As a Texan I am tried of seeing our representatives just trying to stop legislation because a Democrat wanted it. And then they want to criticize President Obama cause of their obstruction.

    February 10, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. Alan

    The point that the Republicans and conservatives always miss is that they want to change to get more votes and not because it's the right thing to do...

    February 10, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. georgex9

    The extreme gerrymandering in Texas results in congressmen having safe districts. The shape of districts ought to be made by independent and non-patrician committees based on geographic rather than politics. This safety net keeps people that are an embarrassment for me as a Texan. Four Republicans running for lieutenant governor declared that creationism should be taught in public schools. This is the influence of the tea partiers, I suppose.

    February 10, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Pest

    I have to wonder how Mitt got 6% of the black vote.
    ------------------------
    I would be curious, too. It would not surprise to find out that his support was mostly among black voters who were registered Republicans. Most black voters who registered to vote prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the resulting episode os political musical chairs, usually registered with the party of LIncoln, with the Republicans.

    There are a few young black conservatives, though. Ever see the TV show, "Fresh Prince of Bel Air"? The "Will" character was a liberal, while the "Karl" character was a conservative. Young black conservatives look to be a vanishing breed to me. The main reason among the black conservatives that I've met cite is taxes. Greed. Just pure simple greed.

    February 10, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. tbone

    Rand Paul needs to hop back in his daddy's pocket.

    February 10, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Hogan's Goat

    " LARGE number of people from both parties (mainly young conservatives) turning into Libertarians" Sorry, but since L.Ron Paul took over, Libertarians are Republicans. They might have been worth something before a billionaire got in the driver's seat, but you can forget them as an organization now.

    February 10, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. Steve

    Texas WILL turn blue before the TGOPer's change not only their message but their beliefs. It's just a matter of time and it won't take ten years.
    In the City of Houston that proudly re-elected their Mayor who happens to be gay, the Governor proudly supports the right to deny her full equality as a citizen of Texas. He himself pushed through a law that prohibits people of gay orientation to marry.
    Until the baptists and hypocrites get out of the way and let progress filter down south this state will be stuck in the traditions that make it the laughing stock of the country and most of them don't even realize it.

    February 10, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. Corey Rouse

    A step in the right direction, but much left unsaid that needs to be said. The GOP exclusivity/elitism whatever they call it, is not the only problem. Inclusivity, if considered abstractly, could be attributed to the GOP, inasmuch it is self-assertively hyper-inclusive (including themselves into the affairs of other people's bedrooms). They still have much to learn for the Giulianis of their party. Unfortunately, the caption in this picture has little to do with the statement contained in the actual article. From a political point of view, the message is prophetic.The message is also a valuable reminder that the 2010 Tea Party figures (like Rand Paul) are more libertarian than counter-cultural conservatives (unlike the subsequent 2012, 2013 social conservatives who are merely masquerading under the 2010 populist Tea Party colours which briefly united Moderate and Conservative Democrats, Libertarians, and various shades of Republicans).

    February 10, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. TBONE

    The problem with the Republican party and why I left it 8 years ago and lost complete support for it 10 years ago was the fact that their stuck in their ideology of preaching to what they think they want for all of us while at the same time the same rules and laws they pass, do not apply to them, so the very things they campaign against they end up doing behind closed doors. At the same time they say their for the average joe and small government and few taxes, few regulations, when in fact during the 2000s, they ended expanding government and putting regulations in place. Till they start campaigning with their hearts for the common person and stop allowing the dollar signs to dictate what they can do, and most of all change out their ideology, I am afraid their party is going to become an extinct party like the Whigs. At least Rand Paul hit it on the head right, but he left out Ideology as well. Problem overall is that this party is still stuck in the 1950s, 1980s, 1990s thru2000s of being my way or the highway. Just yesterday Bonehead Boehner announced that Immigration Reform put on the back burner. Knuckle head, but of course with the debacle of ACA presents, probally just as well. I think to me the two party system is in trouble anyway. We need to do away with ideologies and stick with common sense. So much to do here, but yet the politicians still insist in doing things backwards in both parties.

    February 10, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. TxGirl

    Yes we are a red state. Forget about the social issues a second (where we do fail a bit) and look at our economy, housing markey, jobs markey etc. We have it where many other states do not. The issue I see (especially here in houston) is that when the economy started to tank elsewhere, many fled their blue states to Texas for our jobs and low cost of living. But they brought those same failed blue state economic ideals and blue state ways of voting. Between the 200K + folks that stayed here after Katrina, the illegals or friends of illegals that still manage to vote, and the influx of out-of-towners looking for greener pastures – our slightly red state is now becoming a real battleground and eventually will be a blue state. We are good for business – which is inturn good for jobs – and that is in large part due to our strong red economic values. Another ten years we will be as bad as California and New York – God help us then.

    February 10, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Spud

    This is not correct, the Dems would never take texas.

    February 10, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. Mammo

    Paul you are a small man with a smaller mind....totally insignificant. You need to quit demonizing others and stand on your own accomplishments....so far you and tea kettles are a joke.....

    February 10, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Hogan's Goat

    What's wrong, of course, is that the GOP doesn't want to split into financial conservatives and social conservatives.They'd lose some votes that way, so they keep on as a two-headed monster with one head shouting "Vote for me and I'll fix the economy" and the other head snarling "Vote for me and I'll put your son in prison." Gosh, why doesn't that appeal to people?

    February 10, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. panz4ever

    “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.”

    Think he left out. "We need people with white hoods and without white hoods".

    February 10, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. Mark

    “Texas will be a Democratic state within 10 years if you don’t change.”

    I'm sure he said "democrat" state

    February 10, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. bill.x

    He's just trying to distract from the fact that his current state, Kentucky, will go Blue later this year when they throw dumbarse McConnell out for a Dem. That is, if McConnell even survives the GOP primary.

    February 10, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Doug

    The GOP should worry more about Florida now. It's looking like it could be a "blue out" even as early in November. Without Florida, there is no path to winning a national election. The GOP will become what they already are in California: irrelevant.

    February 10, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. Jerry Okamura

    Why are there "blue and red states"? What makes the people in one state, so different than the people in another state?

    February 10, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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