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. Anonymous

    Hey Rand, It's not just Texas, it's the entire Country. Except perhaps a small backward community in Bay Co. Fl.

    February 10, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  2. blue079

    If they truly want to change, they have to start with their media propaganda machines and the shady financial backers who feed the public. If they don't, and the party lawmakers do actually start changing, the people and public who support them will turn their backs on them.

    It is not just the republican party that needs to change, it is the frame of mind of their supporters in this country. Otherwise, the ones who truly want to change, will find themselves out of a job.

    February 10, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. aspgard

    This is great. We need to welcome them and then say, so sorry, we don't want to let you be legal!

    February 10, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Kerry

    The extreme Right politics, more than anything else, is what is driving Texas to the Left. Most people want moderation in their politicians and they are not getting that from the Tea Party. Therefore they are looking at the alternatives. The GOP should have learned this by now. If they fail to do this they will continue to lose. Especially with an ever increasing younger population of people who lean away from the more conservative viewpoints. The demographics are changing. Either change with the times or become extinct like the dinosaur.

    February 10, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. JimNasium

    “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.”

    Translation: "People are not going to vote for us if we keep disregarding their needs. "


    February 10, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  6. FTD

    Hey 2L, man...How can a minority be 55% man? That's funny...I think we went to different schools, man...

    February 10, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. Don DaMiddle

    Texas has BEEN "Blue" for over a decade... but the GOP has maintained
    the most effective voter oppression campaign in the nation.

    February 10, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  8. constitutional Conservative

    Rand Paul is a brilliant man. Read his books before you pass judgement.

    February 10, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. Sir Nikon

    OK, Rand, let's talk about predatory behavior. The conservative movement has preyed on the poor, the disenfranchised and women. It has moved to remove personal choice from health care by removing health care from the list of possibilities for those not able to afford it. Conservatives are the predators on a mass scale.

    The set-up for Benghazi began when Republicans, forced by the notion of reducing spending in all the wrong places, thwarted appropriations that would have gone to supporting security for foreign missions. Look to your own misdeeds for cause and effect.

    All of that is not to say the Democrats and super-liberals are without fault, but to hear such criticism from disconnected-from-reality pundits as yourself is, well, laughable.

    February 10, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Hogan's Goat

    "people of all classes – business class, working class" The only two classes that old cowpoke perceives? Ah, it's a big world out there, Randy my boy. You'll learn, or maybe your money will keep you ignorant.

    February 10, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. WCSallyAnn

    First off, with all the people moving to Texas for those low paying jobs, I'm sure many of them normally will vote for the D's. And the minorities will also vote for the D's. So either the R's will have to change their ways, or Texas could very well end up as a blue state.
    However, with their voter caging and their voter machine tampering, anything is possible that they can keep it a red state.

    February 10, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. Boomer in Mo

    The old white guys are dying off. That is the only thing that will change the GOP. Believe me, I know. I am around old white guys every day and they don't want women, minorities (especially blacks) or younger people to have any power of any kind.

    February 10, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  13. Hogan's Goat

    "The most basic definition of a conservatism means a resistance to change" Yes, but these are supposed to be FINANCIAL conservatives!! SOCIAL conservatives are people like the Amish and the midwest farmers, suspicious of these new-fangled tractors and fertilizers and holding tourists at gunpoint as possible 'revenooers.' How in blazes did the latter get in control of the former? Nothing wrong with a banker who decides not to invest your money in some wild scheme and sticks to bonds and stocks to get money slowly; they risk less than the 'venture capitalists' and get smaller but more certain returns. We aren't out to elect a Pope when we go to the polls; we want someone to run our country's business. Conservatism is the turtle racing the rabbit, and it's usually a safer bet.
    I swear Rand Paul is the biggest fool in politics. Thank god Heinlein's not here to see what Libertarians have come to.

    February 10, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. sammiclark

    So he is admitting the current gop party is full of racist white men! About time someone admitted it!

    February 10, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Skeptimist

    The difficulty in trying to erase a record of hypocrisy is that the effort is usually, due to habit, blatantly hypocritical.

    February 10, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  16. budshot

    Were it not for gerrymandering, the state might be blue now. And because of gerrymandering the state will stay red. This country's 'laws and rules' when it comes to voting puts us on par with some of the nastiest regimes in the world.

    February 10, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. ritmocojo

    Wow! Rant Paul not ranting! How refreshing!

    February 10, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. BeverlyNC

    Although I don't take anything Rand Paul says seriously, I sure hope he is right about TX. It's about time they joined our nation as a Democratic state who care about their citizens – ALL of them.

    February 10, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. M

    I agree with the sentiment others have expressed. It seems that many Republicans seem to think that all they need to do is change the way they present their message or find some different people to present it. However, that's just putting lipstick on a pig. You can apply the lipstick, give her a facial, add nail polish, and dress her up in an evening gown, but the fact remains that she's still a pig. If the GOP wants to attract more voters, it has to actually change its message, expel the far-right extremists, and move toward the center.

    February 10, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  20. TxGran

    Actually, I love the color of blue.......oh yeah!

    February 10, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. sam

    And for some reason the people who are killing the GOP actually think its getting stronger than the democrats. Its quite hilarious to watch as they complain and yell with the same ignorant people who lost them the election before. If only white people could vote they would probably win the next election, and most in the GOP would certainly like it to be that way. I cant wait until they are replaced by a real political party.

    February 10, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. Dan I


    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.

    This might be true for House and Senate seats, concentrating Democrat voters into a few districts leaving the rest to be red. BUT it is irrelevant when it comes to the Presidential election. Whether Texas' electoral votes go to the D or the R is based on who wins the overall popular vote in the state not on Congressional district.

    If 50%+1 of people in Texas vote for the Democrat in a presidential election the state's electoral votes go to that candidate regardless of whether more Republicans win House races.

    If Texas were to go reliably blue the Democrats basically have the Presidency sewn up for the foreseeable future. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency, having California, New York, and Texas would give the Democrats 122 out of the gate. That's a pretty big hurdle to overcome especially when you consider that Dems get most of other other high population (and hence high electoral vote count) states.

    February 10, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. Kendall Lockerman

    If Mr Paul and the GOP welcome all the people that aren't like them (angry, willfully ignorant, bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic white guys), will they still be allowed, within the broad confines of the Republican tradition, to look with unadorned contempt on the newly enticed?

    February 10, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  24. Anonymous

    “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.” Rand Paul

    If you do all that then you won't be a Republican.

    February 10, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Gargelygoop

    Why the red and blue garbage anyway. It seems we all are in the same boat, And since we are a representative republic, with Constitutional constraints. How is that the people should need to worry about loosing their right to bear arms, or to terminate a fetus, or be taxed to poverty. Looks to me like we have a red and blue problem getting in the way of prosperity. You people should really consider voting for someone without ambitiously stupid plastered all over their party lines. Red or Blue, its really just a tint of the same hue.

    February 10, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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