February 9th, 2014
09:29 AM ET
7 years 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.

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“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. Tampa Tim

    As will GA, FL, KY, and TN. When you have no plans to help 45 million uninsured, 50 million poor people, 11 million immigrants, 25 million seniors, the gay community, people who want background checks on gun buyers, veterans etc., sooner or later friends of anyone in these groups will vote against you.

    February 9, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  2. Dennis Freeman

    The problem, Senator, is what your party believes in is not welcoming to many people. It takes more than just hanging out a welcome sign.

    February 9, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  3. Norma Vessels

    Yes, well .. don't you think it's a little late to be choosing another road, especially since it's election year? Seems a tad transparent to me, you're just making that kind of talk because of November. "Let's all play nice, now, until after the election." That's pretty much what you're telling all the Republicans. Isn't that right, Mr. Paul.

    February 9, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Voter suppression will not save the Republican Party. There is not one accomplishment they can run on, except their government shutdown.

    February 9, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. drake mallard

    The Commonwealth Fund ranks the Texas healthcare system the third worst in the nation. Only Arizona, Nevada and Mississippi are worse. The Fund’s new report, “Healthcare in Two Americas,” has an exhaustive collection of data that covers many measures of care. You can see how each state ranks in four areas: child health system, state health system, local area systems and low-income services. Texas is in the bottom quartile for all but one of those analyses. It is the third quartile for low-income population

    February 9, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Limbaugh decided that the Republican Party does not want women, the poor, minorities, the uninsured, veterans, seniors, students, and the American worker. He is, after all, the true leader of the GOBagger party. You RWNJs will always have bagger, bigots, Birthers, and billionaires, though.

    February 9, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    Too late Sen Rand Paul ,you and your political party view will change Texas into blue state.

    February 9, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Ya,with GOP bafoons and losers like bland Paul Rubio , Cruz , lee, Labrador and the teahage Bachman and Blackburn on the GOP side it's a SURE thing !!!!!!

    February 9, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. bcrunner

    Welcoming? Tell us of one thing you are working in congress that would benefit Latinos... actually tell us of one legislation that you are working on that would benefit all Americans... Jobs? Any jobs bills to put more Americans to work? You have done nothing!!! NOTHING!! The unemployment rate should be closer to 5% by now... The only thing your party knows how to say is NO!!!!

    February 9, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. Dallas

    We can't turn Texas blue fast enough. We've had all we can take of Perry, Cruz, Cornyn, Abbott, etc. For the first time in 20 years we have a real chance of electing a democratic governor. The tea bags are on their way out!

    February 9, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. Tampa Tim

    It's almost 10:30, and we have not heard where Sen. McCain wants to start another war. Is he ill?

    February 9, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Mike in Texas

    @ Tampa Tim,

    You hit it on the head, the more you try to exclude people from something the more push back you are going to get. It backfired in 2012 and will continue to do so. Pretty sad that you have to keep people from voting to win elections.

    February 9, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Mike Texoma

    Ten years? Do we have to wait 10 years? Lord, help us.

    February 9, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. HenryMiller

    Not to mention, the GOP has to stop offending people and kicking individual freedom in the teeth with all the self-righteous, bigoted, "social values" crap.

    February 9, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. plain and simple

    Here's a couple ways how republicans can change. (1) Kick the teapublicans to the curb. (2) If you can't change your party,change parties. Just look who's running for governor in Florida. I'm sure there are sane rational people in the republican party,you just don't see them on TV or being in leadership roles.

    February 9, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Tampa Tim

    @Wire Palladin, S.F.
    Lenny Curry, head of the Florida TeaPublican Party had an op-ed in the New-Press today, blasting our new governor, Charlie Crist, as he is coming to Fort Myers for his book signing. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the republicans could have an accomplishment to run on instead of attack ads. If they could do even one thing that helped Floridians or Americans, their popularity could skyrocket to double digits.

    By double digits, you mean lower teens, right?

    February 9, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. Anonymous

    “That was kind of tepid,” he said."

    No doubt a reflection of who was speaking. Rand Paul's all consuming arrogance will be his downfall long before the first Republican primary votes are counted.

    February 9, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Rand Paul is right but the extreme conservative wing remains tone deaf to any callls for change.

    February 9, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. Smitty

    Wiener, Spitzer, Edwards and Willie Bill fine examples of the Dems leadership towards women.

    February 9, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. len

    Please vote in 2014...do not repeat 2010. Must vote gop.tea party folks out in 2014.....VOTE!!!

    February 9, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Tampa Tim

    Smitty – Vitter, Ensign, Limbaugh, Huckabee, the entire republican house, the entire republican senate 24 republican governors and their legislators, etc. are examples of republican leadership toward women. You baggers have a pretty big problem, and it is getting worse.

    February 9, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. ChrisM

    The right Paulie. When Republicans do not have a platform to run on except being the party of No, That is what happens. The American people can See exactly what the repubs have not accomplished

    February 9, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    And if you follow Rand's lead, Texas could be blue even sooner! Or is it really just a "messaging problem", and not the message.. Rand...?

    February 9, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. Tampa Tim

    It's after 11 am, and we still don't know which country McCain wants to start a war with? Come on John, tells us.

    February 9, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. Tampa Tim

    Uncle Sugar, did you have something you wanted to say about libido? Uncle Huck signed legislation in Arkansas to guarantee insurance companies would pay for women's birth control pills didn't he? For a minister he has mastered the art of lying and double standards.

    February 9, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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