Rand Paul warns Texas could turn blue
By: Katie Glueck
February 9, 2014 08:42 AM EST
HOUSTON — Sen. Rand Paul on Saturday predicted that Texas would turn blue within a decade if the Republican Party doesn’t become more inclusive.
“What I do believe is Texas is going to be a Democrat state within 10 years if we don’t change,” Paul (R-Ky.), who grew up in Texas, said at a dinner held by the Harris County GOP. “That means we evolve, it doesn’t mean we give up on what we believe in, but it means we have to be a welcoming party.”
Paul, who is heavily weighing a presidential bid, noted that his assessment was shared by the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. The Lone Star state, currently the largest Republican bastion in the country, is nearly 40 percent Hispanic — a demographic that has overwhelmingly supported Democrats in recent elections.
The senator, whose father was a longtime congressman from Texas, acknowledged that immigration reform is a “touchy” subject before offering his vision for people who want to come to the United States.
“We won’t all agree on it,” he said. “But I’ll tell you, what I will say and what I’ll continue to say, and it’s not an exact policy prescription … but if you want to work and you want a job and you want to be part of America, we’ll find a place for you.”
There was some quiet applause in the massive hotel ballroom, in which hundreds of Republicans — a mix of high-dollar donors, activists and state officials — were gathered. But Paul remarked that the response was “kind of tepid.”
“Doesn’t mean I don’t believe in securing the border first, doesn’t mean I don’t believe it’s important we have a secure country,” he said. “But it does mean we have to have a different attitude.”
More people applauded when he quoted his colleague, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah): “Immigrants are assets, not liabilities. We were all immigrants once.”
In his 25-minute address, Paul also offered up some 2016 red meat: He went after Hillary Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential contender, over Benghazi.
“We’re talking about six months of ignoring repeated, one-after-another requests for security,” he said, referring to the months leading up to the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He added that the issue that “should limit Hillary Clinton from ever holding high office, when she was asked for reinforcements, she turned down reinforcements, and we should never, ever have a commander-in-chief who won’t send reinforcements.”
A spokesman for Clinton didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “With specific security requests they didn’t come to me. I had no knowledge of them,” Clinton said during congressional testimony last year.
Paul was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who praised his Kentucky colleague for pushing to expand the party.
“I’ve been particularly impressed with Rand’s efforts to broaden the base and appeal of our party without sacrificing our principles,” said Cornyn, who is in the midst of a primary contest of his own. “To me, that’s the most important challenge our party faces.”