Last Friday at the Reagan Library, Rand Paul outlined a vision for the Republican Party for expanding the party’s voter base.
Speaking for approximately thirty minutes, the Kentucky US Senator focused on ways for the GOP to not only be competitive again in states like California, but to win them in national elections.
Paul focused on many themes for which he is known, such as opposing taxpayer-funded bailouts and ending foreign aid to anti-American countries. He also spoke on themes Republicans have been reluctant to directly address from the environment and education to immigration.
Paul said, “I don’t think we need to dilute our message of low taxes, less regulations, and balanced budgets,” but “if we want to win in bluish states – and getting bluer states – like California, we have to change the current perceptions of who we are.”
Recounting some of his family history as German immigrants, Paul appealed:
“There is an immigrant dream that is out there and we need to be cognizant of that and not look to everybody who wants to come here and work as bad people. And this is an important change of attitude, that until we have this change of attitude, I don’t think we’re going to win again nationally or in California. Latinos will come to the GOP when we treat them with dignity.”
Perhaps harking back to his April speech at historically-black Howard University, Paul spoke of a way to reach out to minorities while remaining faithful to limited government principles:
“We will win in California, though, when we become the champions . . . of better education, of better public schools. The educational establishment has really given up on many blacks and Latinos. We can come to the rescue . . . if we are willing to come in and promote things like school choice . . . and give local power to schools. . . . Decisions about education should be made at the local level, not in Washington.”
Paul also spoke of the cross-party appeal of his thirteen-hour March 6 filibuster:
“We had people from right and left. Young people by the tens of thousands signing up for our Twitter, tweeting it out themselves. People were excited about somebody who passionately believed in something – it wasn’t just bashing the other party because they were from the other party. So these are things that I think can help us to grow our party. If we are Republicans, and as a party, passionately defend the Bill of Rights, we don’t need to dilute what we believe in.”
Paul has spent much of his short political career taking much of the libertarian message of his father, former congressman Ron Paul, and spreading it to more groups within the Republican coalition. California, a state no Republican presidential candidate has won since 1988, is just one place where Republicans will be trying to expand their appeal. At the Reagan Library Rand Paul made a case for Republicans to expand their message beyond the coalition without diluting that message. How it does in California may indicate how well the GOP can adapt to changing electoral environments.