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. Gunderson

    Um, Yes,
    If you need the Nanny State Republicans are out of touch. If you need Food Stamps Republicans out of touch. If you need everlasting unemployment benefits Republicans out of touch. If you need everlasting welfare Republicans out of touch. When Republicans get back in power you really out of touch !

    February 9, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Steve C

    Galileo225... So you are one of those who groups an entire set of people and judges them all as one based on where they live. Do you do this with others based on their race, religion or income level? There are a lot of ex-dictators, and sadly current ones, that did and do the same thing.

    February 9, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. sbrwe

    under 40 and republican? you will get laughed out of the room – and justifiably so. the GOP has been an absolute trainwreck the past -oh 15 years or so. lamar smith, darryl issa, michelle bachmann, george bush, john boehner, ted cruz, rick santorum, etc...etc...etc... these people shouldnt be a country mile near our government. i cannot for the life of me figure out how americans that arent filthy rich are finding justification to vote for this amazingly incompetent party.

    February 9, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. jpherling

    The more diverse the Republican party becomes, the more fratricidal it behaves. If minorities should ever become influential within the GOP, every Republican would point at every other Republican and scream "RINO!".

    February 9, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    It seems Mr. Paul wasted a lot of words. All he had to say was, "Let's be more like the Democratic party."

    February 9, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Warning

    Texas turning blue would be a disaster for Texas and the rest of the US. Turning blue would change the state's conservative fiscal policy has allowed it to be one of the strongest economic engines in the US. 4 of the 5 strongest performing US cities are in Texas. No state income tax, fewer business regulations, make this state the top US state that people move. There is no debate to this.

    February 9, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. John Jacobson

    Maybe the Republicans will move away from the idea that if you're not wealthy, you must either be lazy or stupid or both. But its doubtful.
    Republicans see the world in a different manner. Take health care. There view seems to be if you're not rich or able to afford good health care, grandma should be tossed from her hospital bed into a snowbank.

    February 9, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. El Texan

    The republican part of Texas have a long, long history of ignoring the Mexican Americans of this state. Now they have the tea party people helping them. I hope it takes just as long for them to gain their trust.

    February 9, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Simplefaith

    Rand Paul wants to bring Latinos, women, people of color etc into the Republican Party in Texas well he better get a move on Immigration Reform. I cannot believe that Boehner stopped the bill from a vote. When he promised they were going to work on Immigration Reform. Congress is not for the people, but for supporting their own party and obstructing President Obama for doing his job. Yes, Texas will turn Democratic very soon. Texans are not stupid. They can see the Republican party is not what it used to be. Lots of self centered, corrupted politicians out for themselves. Proven by having "Green Eggs and Ham" Ted Cruz as a Texan Senator. What were you thinking Texans!

    February 9, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. jonquil123

    Rand misses the point; Republicans will never win in an "most creative outward manifestation of individuality" award and that's okay. We need a party of ties to counter-balance a party of earrings and blue hair. The problem most Americans have with The GOP is, yes, some of their positions on social issues but not all of their ideas - it's who The GOP exclude from their ties-and-white-picket-fences ideal, that bothers us. They don't hold up Bill Cosby as a good representation of healthy, Conservative values that transcends race. They don't know how to wrangle the "Alex P. Keaton" nostalgia, in the same way The Democrats harness Vietnam protests and Fleetwood Mac. The GOP is failing, culturally and it's because they refuse to reduce themselves to showing how they are relevant; ties and sport jackets aren't bad, as long as it's on an Asian, Hispanic or Black person, as well as white. Norman Rockwell's America belongs to everybody and there's no reason why community cohesion and patriotic conformity, can't be just as alluring as irreverent, individuality. A society needs balance and places for different Americans to feel they can express themselves, based on what best suits their personality. We need that push and pull, between perspective; however, The GOP has to stop talking about quashing those different people and, instead, letting them be and offering a welcome to those who feel they are a better fit in Conservative expression, rather than Liberal.

    February 9, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. Joseph

    Remind me again, what's the difference between the two parties at this point? Don't they both just want me to give them money and deal with some limitation of rights? Sure, it may be in different areas, but I've had enough of both of them. Red, blue, whatever, they're both part of the problem.

    February 9, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Paul Williamson

    The Republican party will have to do a lot more than welcome voters without ties and with tattoos to get more of the vote; (most) voters are not stupid and recognize that the Republican Party represents the rich and large corporations, attempts to restrict personal freedoms in marriage and women's health, and doesn't give a damn about the poor and middle class. It even tries to restrict them from voting. Until the Republican party tells the Koch brothers where to go and abandons its 1880's political and economic theories, it will continue to diminish in size and importance. Blacks, Hispanics and women are not going to vote against their self-interests.

    February 9, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. texasnotea

    This is the only thing Rand Paul has ever said that holds truth

    February 9, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Fulano

    Texas going Blue is inevitable. And the sooner the better.

    February 9, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. Richard

    Too many people are afraid (thanks to unemployment) of the Obama welfare gravy-train being derailed so going "blue" seems like a way of preserving a comfortable life for them. Even in Texas.

    February 9, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. John

    People that listen to Rand Paul Is a little on the crazy side ,more than he Is.

    February 9, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. Robert

    I rarely agree with Rand Paul but I do on this one. Texas is not immune to a demographic change, if anything it is one of the most vulnerable to one. So with the Republicans doubling down on their political philosophy they are on their way to lose a lot of ground.

    February 9, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. jonquil123

    When I think of GOP, Conservative values, I think of community ideals, where people help each other. Yes, conformity is a big part of it - in some sense - but if done nobly, it will be a promotion of conformity without repression. The GOP is failing with their message because they demand obedience to Conservative, cultural values, rather than remain passive but welcoming, to those who want to join. It's sort of the difference between a church that accepts everyone who wants God, without judgement and a witch hunt or inquisition, run by elites. There are some lovely, Conservative values worth preserving, mostly having to do with personal accountability, discipline and community loyalty; however, somehow, somewhere along the way, these ideals have been lost in the quest of total dominance over the individual. I think of movies, like, Picnic(1955) and wonder why those picnic scenes can't be relevant, today. All you have to do, is accept people of different races, in the roles and you have a Conservative ideal, relevant for today. But they just, won't do it. They're their own, worst enemies.

    February 9, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Brian Sellers

    If Texas turns blue that will put us on the threshold of a one party system. Hard to imagine that being good for the country; however, I think we are headed for a political and economic collapse within 10 years regardless of which party occupies the White House.

    February 9, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. Falcon

    The republican party already welcomes people of all races and walks of life. The difference is we don't give them free handouts at taxpayer's expense like the democrats do.

    February 9, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Scott Cluthe aka Seymore Foxhole

    Totally jazzed Lone Star style to be voting for Wendy Davis and the slate. Major growth will shock the Rick Perry gang (all the "me too's" running here.) And for god's sake keep Dan Patrick away from a gavel or microphone !

    February 9, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Starnexus

    I'm 29 years old and I do believe in a lot of freemarket ideas but I just can't vote republican because they're so rigid and extreme especially on social issues. If they were to move away from such an extreme right wing position, think Rudy Gulliani or Michael Bloomburg then I might actually consider voting for them.

    February 9, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the repub/tea bag majority

    @jonquil123: "When I think of GOP, Conservative values, I think of community ideals, where people help each other. Yes, conformity is a big part of it – in some sense – but if done nobly, it will be a promotion of conformity without repression."

    Exactly how does promoting conformity fit in with our ideals and guarantees of freedom to pursue happiness and the First Amendment?

    February 9, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Ted Cruz

    This guy is the world's biggest idiot. He has GOT to be our presidential candidate. He expressed exactly the kind of contempt for America that we want to project to the dummies, I mean voters.

    February 9, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Rula Lenska

    Not only Texas, lol.

    February 9, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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