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. clem

    Keep making policies based on religion and you will lose. Keep your religion out of people's lives. Mind your own business.

    February 9, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. garymac

    Rand keeps talking about other politicians personal lives...He should be more careful when he opens his mouth...There is a "rumor" rattling around that I'm sure he doesn't want out...

    February 9, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. SkepticalOne

    Rand Paul is correct but it is not a message that the party of angry old white men wants to hear.

    February 9, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  4. ed Poko

    Mr. Paul; What did you expect when the population of Texas is increasing daily by illegals getting ready to vote for SOCIALISM under Obama ...

    February 9, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Solomon Walker

    Look at the twisted headlines at CNN today. What does that tell you about the Obama administration influence of "change" on the nation?

    February 9, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. easchner

    Let me rephrase that:

    "Sorry we haven't done anything to help you and insulted your existance for the last 50+ years. However, we actually need your votes now, so if you'd join us that'd be great."

    February 9, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. Tampa Tim

    Hector – The republican economic plan led to a Great Depression, a Great Recession, a job loss of 8 million in 2008, the vast majority of our national (deficits don't matter) debt, unfunded wars, TARP, unfunded drug programs, trickle down economics, religious crazy ness. Yet you blame that on liberals? You are confused.

    February 9, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Lifehiker

    Paul is right to worry, but the current GOP is incapable of change. Remember, a "conservative" is one who likes things the way they are or the way they imagine it was 100 or 200 years ago. Modern women, minorities, and more educated people know very well what the GOP stands for: government by, and for, white folks who profess faith in either their warped reading of the Bible or in their bank book. Texas will go blue because the GOP's policies make this perfectly clear.

    February 9, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    When you think that 70% of the country who disagree with you is the minority, you might be a RWNJ.

    February 9, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Bill Freidline

    Hahaha......those are the very people the GOP has been telling it's members to be afraid of for years.....

    Too late boys!

    February 9, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Dave - Phx

    What he fails to mention, is it will be because of people exactly like him that causes it.

    February 9, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. gypsytoo

    well, if you want to include more people in the republican party – get folks like Mary Helen Sears of Northern Michigan to shut up. comments like hers do not make people want to join with the GOP.

    February 9, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. I don't get it

    Rand Paul likes to tell people that if they urinate in his pool that the water will turn blue... and as he is giving the warning he himself is urinating in the pool.

    February 9, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. one7five

    A cheerful change from the usual "were failing because we didn't double down on right wing extremism" but what is he really saying? Like a daddy at dinner, he's telling his base...'you can still hate broccoli but if you smoosh it in with your mashed potatoes and gravy and mix it with some roast beef, it will go down a lot better.' NOW they wast to play nice when they see t

    February 9, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. rrdude

    Turning Blue – couldn't happen to a better state. Maybe Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and a couple others will follow.

    February 9, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Cathy

    I pray to God that Oklahoma will be next and the red states take Fox News with them.

    February 9, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. jerry walters

    Just as Texas will go Democrat soon and very soon, so will the GOteaP go ... away. The lunatics in the GOP (the teapartiers) have high-jacked the already severely flawed party and they will drive it fully over the cliff when Hillary wins it all in 2016!

    February 9, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. one7five

    A cheerful change from the usual "were failing because we didn't double down on right wing extremism" but what is he really saying? Like a daddy at dinner, he's telling his base...'you can still hate broccoli but if you smoosh it in with your mashed potatoes and gravy and mix it with some roast beef, it will go down a lot better.' NOW they wast to play nice when they see the tidal wave at their doorstep. I just hope dark people are nicer to Texans than Texans were to them when white Texans can no longer ball up their fists under everyone's nose with impunity.

    February 9, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. wat

    Rand, that's the smartest thing you said all year.

    The GOP has to return to its roots as an inclusive party that vouches for small business and truly limited government- a pseudolibertarian party of fiscal restraint and low taxes, not a party that caters to evangelicals and bigots to get fringe voters excited.

    The GOP started to suffer as soon as Nixon used his southern strategy, and is continuing to suffer because every GOP candidate since Nixon has been a business-backed neoconservative warhawk willing to pay lip service to evangelicals.

    February 9, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. jj

    There are a lot of poor and working class people in Texas, the wage slave class that Republican bosses exploit. It is time for these workers to wake up and see that Democratic policies benefit them much more than Republican economic exploitation.

    February 9, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. 66Biker

    If Texas does go Blue, who will be Responsible for it? Did I hear you say "Wingnut Republicons?" I thought so...

    February 9, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Tim

    I really don't understand why this guy gets press. When fact-checked he is seldom if ever right or told the truth. I think he averages 3.5 pinochios on Fact Checker. The guy's a phony right down to his pulled-up bootstraps.

    February 9, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. wendel

    of course texas will go blue. Repos have no clue. Rand is right about something. surprise surprise

    February 9, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. jb1963

    Texas would be a blue state already if all the minorities would just vote.

    February 9, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Larry B.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid. Boy, the message sure hasn't changed with these guys for many a long year.

    February 9, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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