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. Edwin

    I predict the ultimate GOP response to this will be "let's make our message MORE conservative."

    Somehow, conservatives do not grasp that there are lots and lots of Americans who do not think like they do. Or rather, they grasp this but see it as a flaw in those people. Instead of reaching out to moderates and even liberals in order to compromise - to achieve an America which represents more than a tiny fraction - the GOP strives to narrow their message and mislead.

    A great example of the GOP policy is the websites they bought to specifically misrepresent Democratic candidates and trick people into donating for the GOP candidate. Akthough the National Republican Party enthusiastically endorsed this policy, Google has placed these sites on their list of fraudulent websites. There was a single example of this type of trick on the opposite site of the aisle - and the National Democratic Party condemned the practice and formally criticized the creators.

    Until the GOP recognizes that its message is far too narrow, they will continue to lose popularity. Maybe actually losing Texas will serve as a wake up call... but I doubt it. Conservatives think of themselves as the only True Americans - they would rather whine, threaten and trick others than listen to them.

    February 9, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. jlacke

    Amnesty for illegals and increased immigration from the 3rd World will only hasten the process of Texas turning blue.

    February 9, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. David Ziffer

    And why wouldn't Texas wanna get on the welfare / food stamp / endless-unemployment-benefits gravy train? Only trouble is, it's gonna get harder and harder to find actual working people to fund all this stuff. Nonetheless, there is no question that whoever promises the most goodies for free will eventually get the most votes. It's the essence of democracy. Hey, where do I sign up for my bennies?

    February 9, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Fred Jones

    When I think of GOP, I think of the KKK, the neo Nazis, religious fanatics who want to kill in the name of Jesus and people who want to sell America out to the highest bidder. That description fits Rand Paul and his traitor party perfect.

    February 9, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. Dan

    The Republicans do need to reach out to more people, but Romney got 40% of the Hispanic vote in Texas. Older generation Hispanics are much more likely to vote Republican and many Hispanic families have been in Texas for generations. The Republicans still need to dial back some of their extreme social conservatism and a focus on the huge health insurance premium increases in Texas from Obamacare, should bring in more votes.

    February 9, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the repub/tea bag majority

    @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."

    Yep! Those interested in facts can google it. Here's a sampling:

    2005: Then-Arkansas Gov. Huck signed a law mandating Arkansas insurance plans provide contraception coverage (this included church-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities).

    GW Bush: Never challenged a similar federal mandate imposed in 2000. (He did challenge other mandates, so obviously, he was fine with this one.)

    2000: Iowa repub legislature overwhelmingly backed the bill mandating contraceptive coverage. And whaddy know? It did not have exemptions for religious employers OF ANY KIND.

    So GOP base, before you vote, think again about how the GOP keeps lying to you ... and playing you for a fool ... and manipulating you to vote against your own self-interest ...

    February 9, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Calcommuter

    First, I am sure the people of Texas appreciate a senator from Kentucky telling them to change. He's lucky he wasnt tied up like a pig and put over coals for dinner. And changing the message while never actually changing as a party will never work again.....

    February 9, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 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.

    February 9, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the repub/tea bag majority

    @Richard: "Too many people are afraid (thanks to unemployment) of the Obama welfare gravy-train ..."

    Right, because living on public assistance is just gangs of fun! Check out the stats on the number of applications per job posting, especially for lower-wage jobs. People out there WANT to work and would much rather do that than be on assistance.

    February 9, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Sam Houston

    Paul fails to realize that Texas will be an independent country, as it was before 1845. Before that time, the United States encouraged Americans to emigrate to the Republic of Texas. Eventually there were so many Americans, President Tyler annexed Texas to be the 28th state. By that time it full of Americans, who had no problem with joining the USA.

    Now Texas hospitals pay for 60,000 babies to be born each year to illegals. Since they are 99% Hispanic, you would think Republicans would do something about this. Instead, they turn an eye to the problem and allow Congress and the president to continue giving these children citizenship, which is against the 14th amendment. The 14th says they can gain citizenship only if they are under the jurisdiction of the US. But their parents are Mexican citizens and for that reason, the babies are also Mexican citizens. Therefore, they aren't under the jurisdiction of the USA and have allegiance to Mexico, and don't qualify for citizenship under the 14th.

    February 9, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. women voters for change

    Simply Said; The Republican party is anti women, anti choice, anti gay, anti black, anti immigration, anti health care act, anti seniors, and anti 47%...

    With a PLATFORM like that...

    No wonder millions of republican voters are voting for Democrats!

    February 9, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Stephen in Bedford, TX

    Gosh I hope Texas turns blue. Texans should be ashamed of themselves for the crop of politicians they have dumped on Washington, D.C.

    February 9, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. david saint

    The GOP lost its identity once it pandered to the fringe element, aka the tea party. For example, McCain and Romney both lost in part because they had to pander to the fringe crazies, then act normal during the general election. Thus causing them to flip flop time and time again. If the GOP doesnt want to whither and die, they better realize two things. 1 they arent infallible. 2. if they're ideas are so great, why did the country do so poorly under Bush and the last few GOP Presidents? Point being, compromise...or as its called in the sales world, sink or swim.

    February 9, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. t

    ........GOP has been DYING for years now,.....by their OWN HAND.................
    .....The GOP has LOST the last 5 of 6 national votes..............and tell me why that trend wont continue.......

    February 9, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Chris

    Sorry Rand, but the problem isn't that easily solved. If the GOP becomes more like all the many different faces of America, by definition they will no longer be the GOP. They might as well scrap the entire party and start over with something more reasonable and appealing. It appears evolution is finally taking it's toll on a group of people who don't believe it exists.

    February 9, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. Steve In SD

    Let's see:

    Small government,
    – except the military, oil industry, local handouts
    Personal freedoms
    – except abortion, marijuana, sex
    Freedom of religion
    – as long as you choose to be a Christian
    States rights
    – except where it's not convenient

    Yeah, I'm down with the 'red' agenda. Let's see if we can't get more people to buy into our program!

    February 9, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    So now he remembers Texas? Does this idiot understand that the more he speaks the more he turns people off?

    February 9, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. logic n L.A.

    Mr. Paul has been campaigning from one side of his mouth, while advocating 19th century ideas for our country.
    the 21st century needs 21st century thinking and ideas. We began our recovery from the 29 Depression in 33 with the first signs showing up in 34. It took time to recover.
    While not listed as a depression, this last crisis was worse because of international influences. The government lead us out of 29, got the country on its feet in the 50's under Eisenhower and is required even more so now by investment in our infrastructure.

    February 9, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Why

    Texas will turn democratic. The nut bag republicans, Rick Perry Bush W and the whole lot of those conservative imbeciles are getting nuttier than a peanut factory.

    February 9, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. tbone

    Of course its going to turn blue.
    People are tired of working to fund those who don't work.
    People are going to stop working when they realize the govt will just provide for them.
    The country has moved beyond the tipping point.
    Sorry but there is no turning back now.
    America is a Socialist nation. period

    February 9, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  21. Andrew

    He's right, but coming from him it sounds like a sales pitch with hidden fine print.

    February 9, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. ANNIER

    This John Bircher is an afront to politics, and that's saying something! People need to educate themselves about HIM and his agenda. He gets any power and he'll have his buddy, Catro, in the thick of it, then heaven help us all!!

    February 9, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Osama Bin Laden

    There will never be another Republican president.

    February 9, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. Bill

    It would be terrible if our government became a one party system. It would be nice if the democrats and republicans could find median ground. But it's a shame we don't have a third party to represent the middle class. But until we look at people as people and just Americans without a race, sex, age, religion, and names like Irish American, African American, Asian American labels, we will never have good representation for the 98%

    February 9, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. blakenaustin

    If Americans continue to shun common sense and embrace the morally empty values of the far left, perhaps. What is far more likely is that the Democrats will not be able to buy tens of millions of votes and use the media to cover for their many mistakes. The American people will wake up. They will demand fiscal responsibility. They will demand a return to morality and common sense. And the Democrats will become a dying breed, exposed for what they really are.

    February 9, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
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