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. DevilAnse

    Interesting...I had the impression that Senator Hairdo was totally focused like a laser on turning Kentucky into a Blue State !

    February 9, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Dorothy

    Appearances aside, Mr. Paul, you can shave your bony head, get a Mohawk, tattoo your entire body and/or pierce every outgrowth and orifice, but the minute you open your mouth we're all going to know it's you.

    February 9, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Mike-Connecticut

    Not a big Rand Paul fan, love his Dad, but what he said is absolutely true. The reality is, that in less than 2-3 years the Republican party will not exist. Even sadder, the last Republican President will be George W. Bush. The Republican party does not represent anyone, but maybe the rich and famous, 1%, anymore. OUR Government, does not represent US anymore. Period! Democrats included. Fridays comment by big joke-of the house Boener, "I do not see any immigration reform legislative for 2014". Imagine telling your boss that. It's February. I know boss, something important, that needs correcting, "maybe next year-what a joke! FIRED!!, next...So, Mr Rand, you are spot on when it comes to Texas, the "red states" are going to not be red very, very soon. Just watch. The Republican party, such a disgrace-Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, John McCain, Rush "golden mike of garbage" mouth Limbaugh-what a shameful mess, a very bad MESS!!

    February 9, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Mike Buck

    Texas RepubliCON leaders were talking about leaving the Union just a couple of years ago and now the state is turning blue? Probably from holding their breath until they get their way!

    February 9, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    For once I agree with little Rand!

    February 9, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Andrew

    All the states are going to go blue as long as conservatives continue to fail one freedom test after another. Conservatives talk big on freedom but from same-sex marriage, to abortion, to equality for women, to religion, to prisoner rights, to the NSA/police state, to strong public education, to the separation of church and state, conservatives demonstrate a deep fear and hatred of freedom.

    February 9, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Andy

    Oh My Gosh!!! This could potentially mean voters in Texas are becoming intelligent and reasonable!

    February 9, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Kathleen OConnor

    Taking care of the people in need in the country would be a good start for the Republicans. Like extending the unemployment extension for some of those hardest hit. The Republicans are completely out of touch with the American people. As for being more religious, Jesus helped those who were in need.

    February 9, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. Fred

    The only thing keeping the Republican Party alive is all of the money that corporations (people too, my friend!") keep pumping into it so they can rape this country and it's citizens. They are on the wrong side of everything.

    February 9, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. James

    Anything very well can turn blue when people like Rand Paul stand for red.

    February 9, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Solomon Walker

    Democratic-Republicans. Impeach the Paul.

    February 9, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. TNPatriot

    What Rand Paul can't get through his head is that it is people like him that are turning so many people away from the Republican party.

    February 9, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Dan

    I like what Rand says, unfortunately he's made some rather racist and sexist comments in recent months. You can't just say the GOP should be more welcoming, you actually have to mean it.

    February 9, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Arrgghhh

    Religion in politics? No. Women's rights in politics? No. Anti-gay rhetoric in politics? No. Duck Dynasty in politics? No. Take that to the bank and win!

    February 9, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Jeff Lebowski

    Texas was always a blue state up until the oil boom of the late 70s early 80s.

    February 9, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. tony

    Wait. The fake democaratic websites to get votes by deceit should hold 'em off for another 5 years at least.

    February 9, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. YeahRight

    The GOP needs to get with the 21st century and realize that they have lost the battles over abortion, gays, religion, and just about everything else. They need to focus on fiscal responsibility, while at the same time acknowledging that giving a helping hand to those in need is the human thing to do.

    February 9, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. JCS

    Almost every major city went for Obama this last election, with the exception being Fort Worth I believe. If it wasn't for all the redneck counties outside of these cities full of racist white people, Texas would already be as blue as the sky on a clear day.

    February 9, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. gimmemore

    The repbulcian benghazi is more than irs ever going to obamacare stare the benghazi barrel down irs the obamacare wrong way.

    February 9, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. Keith

    I left the Republican party when I realized that they no longer represented the working class. I dont' think they will change because they can see reality as those of us in the middle class see it.

    February 9, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Dina m.

    I love reading people point of views. The only way to stop the nonscence is to VOTE.

    February 9, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. No one

    Good luck trying to change, you are catering to xenophobic fundamentalists, to expand your base you may lose it.

    February 9, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. John

    So ed Poko, how are all these illegals going to register to vote? You want to tell us about how they will all register illegally in the great state of Texas, despite all its laws that make it seriously difficult to register? And since naturalization for any of them is decades away if at all, seems like this just another pipe dream.

    February 9, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Pete Zoria

    Look at the GOP track record starting at 2000. Yeah, the "W" years. There comes a time where propaganda stops soothing the people. Many Republicans in Texas and around the country can't afford to be Republicans anymore! Just look around your neighborhood...how many houses are for sale due to foreclosure? That's my point. America is in such dire shape actually starting with the Clinton era and moving into the GW Bush era. What's the answer? How about a three party system because our two party
    system is not doing it's job. It's time for a real change.

    February 9, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Peter Q Wolfe

    I'm a native northern Texas e.g. Mckinney area but have lived in other parts of the state as well. I predict that Texas will turn blue just not dark blue in the coming decade on political issues. All that said don't expect any socially liberalism cause the state is firmly entrenched into organized religious affairs. All that said that gays will have equality just perhaps not that much relentness on the abortion front as much.... Sad commentary on the education system perhaps just probably the truth as I see it...

    February 9, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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