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. trevor bryant of flagstaff az

    Maybe if they actually paid more than min wage at those "jobs they are creating" they would not be losing the state. In case you hadn't guessed, poor people tend to vote democratic, because they see republicans only care about the rich. Republicans sacrificed their long term success for short term gains a while ago. They are done as far as presidencies go, WHEN they lose Texas. However, they will likely remain in state politics for many years to come. Half of Texas is becoming Mexico Lite (the central to south west portion). Republicans have lost it there. They will continue to lose ground in every state where they allow poverty to prevail- and poverty is becoming the norm because of their failed trickle down theory, exacerbated by free trade/outsourcing (also their ugly baby).

    February 9, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. MichaelCMTX

    Just more $care tactic$. Actually listen to people and look at bumper stickers here and the State of Texas is far, far, far, FAR away from turning blue

    February 9, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. Mark Causey

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." I guess that Texans are finally realizing this.

    February 9, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. AceGirlshusband

    Just what America needs: a left-wing, one-party system. The changing demographics seem to be pushing us there in a hurry!

    February 9, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Jim

    The beliefs the GOP has used as a focus to their campaigns in the last 20 years;

    1. Women should not be trusted to make decisions about their own body
    2. Non-whites are mostly free-loaders and/or illegal immigrants
    3. People who are gay are sinners that should be punished

    Somehow Rand Paul believes that the GOP can hold onto those beliefs and attract more diversity (females, non-whites, non-heterosexuals) to the party....Good luck with that.

    February 9, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Vence

    Keep helping my party please, as form immigration reform talk to Bohener please!

    February 9, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Bubba

    How did a State like Texas ever turn into a Republican nut factory in the first place??? Texas loves their guns, but it also has cultural diversity. Somehow half of Texas, which is primarily a rural state, was bamboozled by the Right to vote against their own best interests, and they have paid dearly for it as jobs go elsewhere.
    I loved pre-Perry Texas, was even a huge Longhorns fan, but will not even drive through it now. When Texas rejoins the Union I will vacation there for a week or two, and see if it is worth acknowledging again. Beautiful Texas is just a hot Iowa today, and not even Iowans want to live in Iowa.

    February 9, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Spuds Mackenzie

    They need a party that "looks like America". No, they need a party that cares about America. All of America, not just the well off. That is their main problem.

    February 9, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. sparky

    Awesome! I hope he's right!

    February 9, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. Big Tex

    There are too many gun owners in Texas for it to become a blue state.

    February 9, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Tom

    This may be the only time in my life I will ever agree with Rand Paul. Republicans seemed to briefly notice the looming demographic crisis facing their party in the wake of Mitt Romney's defeat in 2012. But the right-wing extremists quickly squashed any notion of making the Republican party more inclusive. The Republican party will never become more diverse unless the party adopts a more diverse message. As long as there are a half-dozen ultra-conservative litmus tests that have to be passed before anyone can be considered a "true" Republican, the party will be unsuccessful in attracting a more diverse membership. The real core question is what is the Republican party? As long as the Tea Party wackos hold significant power in the Republican party, any thought of diversity is really a pipe dream. Why does it take four different Republicans to rebut Obama's State of the Union speech? The Republican party is horribly divided, lacking a clear message or leadership. Until those divisions are rectified it doesn't seem likely any true progress will happen vis a vis diversity. Maybe losing Texas to the Democrats would be a wake-up call for Republicans. But chances are if that happens, the ultra-conservative voices in the party will just declare that Texans just weren't conservative enough and the Republican party is better off without them.

    February 9, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. Trent

    We should have just let the South go after they seceded. Instead we wasted hundreds of thousands of lives to bring a bunch of backwards bible thumpers back into the country. We'd be better off without the South.

    February 9, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. northerstar

    As long as right-wing extremists like Cruz are on the ballet, the GOP leaves voters no choice. Texas will surely "turn blue".The GOP's "favorite son", Ronald Reagan won because he was NOT an extremist when compared to the Tea Party's "take no prisoners" and "no compromise" on anything attitude. Many GOP voters I know are just not voting since they CAN'T vote for the Tea Party extremist and WON'T vote Dem. They are seeking a third party alternative (which like Ross Perot) will further drain support away from the GOP. The GOP does not seek capable of changing from the course they are on that will never lead them to the WhiteHouse and will eventually cost them the "Red States" they currently hold.

    February 9, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Ray

    I am a fiscally conservative, non religious whacko and a social "liberal". I am turning BLUE listening to the GOP self destruct over issues that are none of their business. GOP…get to a middle ground, stop the "social engineering" according to your Bible and get about putting this country back on track. The fools calling the shots in the GOP are driving center right people toward center left with their moralistic nonsense.

    Short version of my viewpoint: "Keep the Democrats out of my wallet and the Republicans out of my bedroom / church ".

    February 9, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. Matt

    Texas is already purple, once the GOP puts the final nail in it's own coffin in 2016, I'm sure it will turn blue rather quickly.

    February 9, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. rl

    garymac, I think I know what that rumor is and I have said that since day one when I first heard of and saw Randy Paul. Now as far as it turning blue, maybe they need to stop more minority votes, as texas is one of the most, in my opinion, segregated states in our country. I've been there and at one time many years ago interviewed for a job with a major company, and really considered it, until I actually went there. Of course trying to stop these votes in 2012 backfired on a lot of states and made people more determined to vote.

    February 9, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. bayrat

    What does this guy know about the struggles that ordinary people have to go through! He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth,the son of a doctor and a millionaire many times over.Struggle with a morgage payment or a medical bill,not him!

    February 9, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Ramon F Herrera

    Dear Senator:

    It is not a matter of "IF" but rather "WHEN exactly".

    February 9, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. LWZRGHT

    Paul assumes that if they just say they are more welcoming to "working class" that those people will just "come on over y'all!" He forgets that the GOP platform runs contrary to the values of many working class Americans:

    1. Higher taxes on the rich than the poor
    2. Women's rights
    3. Government protecting the environment from industry
    4. Freedom to marry a person of one's choosing
    5. Non-preferential treatment of companies by the government
    6. Strong infrastructure, transportation, and housing policies
    7. Social safety net
    8. The ability to purchase health care

    This list could go on and on. Until Republicans start challenging one another on changing those positions, they won't control the Presidency again. And if Democrats can win statewide elections just before the census, the GOP will be a permanent minority.

    February 9, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. MEC

    So, its ok for Republicans to bring up decades old Clinton conspiracies. But its not ok for someone to bring up 9/11 or the financial collapse under Bush? What a bunch of hypocrites!

    February 9, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. Larry L

    Paul means Republicans don't have to change their ideologies towards women, minorities, the LGBT community, non-Christians, or the poor. They simply need to get all of those Americans to accept the xenophobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, and religious prejudice as a good thing... They need a nice big group photo with somebody in it besides fearful, white radicals and corporate fat cats.

    February 9, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. Hector Slagg

    Aw, Humm,
    So Tampa Tim, if Socalisim, starting in ernest when FDR was elected, was so great, and the democrats in the majority for 40 years, why are we in such dior straits today? What happened? News Flash: Texas used to be solidly democratic. Actually they were mostly conservative and still are. But keep on dreaming that those Liberals are good for you, as business either cuts workers or sails off into the sunset to Asia. Some still believe there is a Free Lunch. Most Texans know there is no free lunch, red or blue.

    February 9, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Dadster

    Paul said. “We have to welcome people of all races. We need to welcome people of all classes – business class, working class.” In other words, "we need to include people that we really don't give a crap about. We need to include people who don't believe in our Hunger Game Society. We need to just go out and lie even more to their faces." Your dad was a loser for years and it's easy to see that his apple didn't fall far from his tree.

    February 9, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. spudnik56

    Rand...a walking, talking tater tot...

    February 9, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. LouAZ

    “We need to have people with ties and without ties, with tattoos and without tattoos; with earrings, without earrings,” he said. But, they ALL need to carry a GUN !

    February 9, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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