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. George T

    Sooner the better. What we need in America are CONSTRUCTIVE people not antagonistic, two-faced, money hungry, hypocritical, destructive, scumbags like the GOP.

    February 10, 2014 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. Bill

    The Divide is already too great to fix.. They would be seen as phoney if the change was too sudden.. The GOP only looks sane from within.. Just like a smoker can't smell smoke on others, until they quit smoking.. Then and only then can they really tell how bad the rest stink.. This is what we have in the GOP.. These leaders are so full of themselves, and so used to lying, they have no clue what the truth is.. They need to clean house and start from scratch.

    February 10, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  3. grandeclectus

    As long as you hate gays, love guns, thump a Bible, are anti abortion, pro war, pro death penalty, and are wealthy, the Republican party welcomes you. Don't care if you have funny hair and an earring. They will even take them thar Mexicans, if'n they ain't illegals. What a joke. They party of extremism and exclusion wants more people, but sorry, rebranding isn't going to solve their insanity.

    February 10, 2014 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  4. Fulano

    It's not a warning- it's welcome news. Texas has suffered under GOPer control. The fact Randy only received "tepid applause" just proves that the GOWBs of the GOP have no intention of changing. They will go down with the sinking GOP ship- ironically, filled with tea Baggers!

    February 10, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  5. marco

    but why would it be a bad thing to be liberal and open minded?

    February 10, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  6. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    From your lips to God's ears!

    February 10, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  7. Seattle Sue

    I hope the "Aqua Buddha" is correct about Texas going blue, but this radical jerk will say anything to get his name in the news.

    February 10, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  8. TheSadTruth

    In Texas, suggesting that the state might go Dem is known as fear mongering.
    It is also the LEAST likely possibility of ANYTHING happening- so is obviously aimed the most gullible people imaginable.

    February 10, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  9. SteveInMN

    “We need to have people with ties and without ties, with tattoos and without tattoos; with earrings, without earrings”....

    IMAGINE the utter SILENCE in the room after THAT line!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 10, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  10. Hogan's Goat

    I wish Rand Paul would turn blue. Really, THIS is what you think a 'conservative statesman' should be? By all means run this clown for president.

    February 10, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  11. Tom Bukowski

    Gee, Texas may turn blue, and Paul cares because he such a "libertarian", right? About as libertarian as the GOP.

    February 10, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    “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.”
    The senator doesn't get it. Republicans have a party that looks like the America that conservatives want to see.

    February 10, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  13. ShawnDH

    Unless Republicans change their cruel and backwards policies, the whole nation will be blue. Trust.

    February 10, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  14. dsmidiman

    Warning said,
    "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." Lol, it's the Oil and Gas Industry in Texas that enables the state of Texas to thrive better than other states. It's the high energy prices the rest of us in this nation have to pay that enables Texas to not have a state income tax, which obviously draws businesses to Texas. To say that the reason Texas is one of the top states in the Union for people and businesses to thrive in is due to "fiscal conservative" Republican policies is like saying the only reason a Corvette beats a Volkswagon Beetle off the line is because the driver of the Corvette is a much better driver than the driver of the Volkswagon Beetle? In addition, look at where all that wealth in the vast state of Texas lies? It lies in the hands of a few big cities, the rest of the state is in dire straits like much of the rest of the US.

    February 10, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  15. txan

    The sooner we get rid of our "Tea-Billy" politicians the better.

    February 10, 2014 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    One of those messages, he[Paul] 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.
    The entire idea of welcoming outsiders goes against the grain. Many conservatives claim that it's "what you bring to the table" that matters, which we all know could not be any further from the truth and reality. We know it works in the real world. You have to come from "good stock" in order to "one of us."

    It's not what you know, but who you know.
    It's not who you are, but what you are.

    February 10, 2014 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  17. Hogan's Goat

    " illegal immigration is not among their core values, neither is spending us into oblivion" You must have been really steamed when President Cheney set up Halliburton to make a billion a week fighting Iraq for us. I bet you are still angry at Dubya, right? All that wasted money for nothing.
    Ha ha, of COURSE you aren't angry. That was just good fun, making Halliburton king of the corporations, and perhaps they will hire you to be King of Dubai one day. Who cares about the money when it went to a corporation beloved by both Romneys and Cheneys? See why we aren't in a hurry to let you free-spending, gullible 'conservatives' back into the White House? Halliburton is STILL draining us.

    February 10, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  18. 2L

    Paul is spot on – minorities are a growing population in TX, currently at about 55%

    February 10, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. europafalls

    Texas is in no danger of turning blue. Texas is a prime example of why gerrymandering should be illegal. The state is districted in such a way that Democrats have little to no say. In fact, it was so bad at the last redistricting, it went to the SCOTUS over accusations of disenfranchising Hispanic, Black and female voters.

    February 10, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  20. cedaly1968

    If you had to vote for a candidate in an election and your vote was down to paying 50% of your income in taxes or having old white guys tell you what you can and cannot do with your body – how would you vote? The simple fact that the GOP does not recognize how out of step they are with a growingly diverse populace and a widely more educated populace really is disconcerting.

    February 10, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Steve wrote at February 10, 2014 02:59 am:

    Paul doesn't get it. Its about IDEAS. If you want a more inclusive Republican Party, it has to be willing to accept people who alternative ideas and ideals. Appearances and classifications DON'T MATTER. Republicans always make the mistake of thinking that they can serve the same old crap sandwich, and it will be palatable if they just add a piece of lettuce. ... ...
    I would point out that conservatives don't add a piece of lettuce, because that would mean a change. Instead, they will turn your, uh, sandwich around in the hopes that you won't notice that you're looking at the back side of it.

    The most basic definition of a conservatism means a resistance to change. Fresh ideas and perspectives on age old problems are categorically rejected on mere principle without a hearing. I agree with your suggestions, but they require that conservatives give up everything that it means to be a conservative. In other words, it is categorically impossible to do any of what you have suggested.

    February 10, 2014 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  22. zappo15

    Paul Rand should run for president of Texas as an independent country. He can then return Texas to slavery and avoid blue tendencies for sure.

    February 10, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  23. Maria Delaluz

    I am Hispanic, and will NEVER vote Democrat! I am not saying Republicrats are doing a bang up job – coz they're not. But, voting Demoncrat only worsens things even more. Wish more minorities would see that. Growing up EXTREMELY poor what helped was hard work, a MOM and a DAD that stayed together through thick and thin and the opportunity that this country offers to better oneself. All Demoncrats do is take that opportunity away. What Biden should've said was, "WE want to keep you all in chains". Paul/Napolitano 2016 or Paul/Cruz 2016!!!! Either works for me!

    February 10, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.


    Aww, Ray E. ( Georgia) is still peddling his worthless lies from his intellectual Pez Dispenser. Southerners and Texans loved the New Deal, but, because they ran the committees in the House, They made sure the local machines dispensed the money and the patronage, instead of the Feds: all you ahve to do is see how Perry " balanced" his budgets retroactively with stim money to see how the conservatives take your money to correct their mistakes. All the Conservatives did was switch parties when one of their own ( LBJ) had the audacity to pass the Civil Rights Act. Problems are ongoing, they are not solved simply be creating a program, but it requires the courage to make it work. I guess you lack courage to try, don't you? Another moral coward on the Right who blathers on about "freedom" without doing a thing to extend it to everyone.

    February 10, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. TiredOfPaying

    Put a Marijuana Legalization initiative on the ballot in Texas and you'll see it go Blue the very next election.

    February 10, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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