Rand Paul calls for a ‘new GOP’

On a South­land visit, Ken­tucky se­na­tor urges party to reach out to mi­nori­ties.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Kur­tis Lee kur­tis.lee@la­times.com

As he trav­eled through South­ern Cal­i­for­nia on a two-day trip, Repub­li­can Sen. Rand Paul called on his party Fri­day to widen its out­reach to mi­nor­ity vot­ers, whom he said will help pro­pel the party to vic­to­ries na­tion­wide.

And while he put for­ward a pos­i­tive mes­sage to a party that has strug­gled in Cal­i­for­nia, the Ken­tucky se­na­tor si­mul­ta­ne­ously cas­ti­gated Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, the fron­trun­ner for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion.

Paul, who is among nearly a dozen can­di­dates vy­ing for the GOP nom­i­na­tion, de­liv­ered the key­note ad­dress in a packed Irvine ho­tel ball­room at an an­nual Flag Day Salute of Or­ange County Repub­li­cans.

“Peo­ple want know how we’re go­ing to win?” he said. “We’re go­ing to have to be dif­fer­ent. We’re go­ing to have to be the new GOP.”

Paul hit on key themes he’s ham­mered on in stump speeches in early vot­ing states: at­tack­ing Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency spy­ing pro­grams, call­ing for sen­tenc­ing re­forms and stress­ing the need for his party to broaden its ap­peal through clearer mes­sag­ing.

“We were the party of eman­ci­pa­tion, we were the party of civil rights, we can still be that party again,” he said to cheers.

In re­cent days, as he’s called for sen­tenc­ing re­form, Paul has in­voked the high­pro­file death of Kalief Brow­der, a young black man who com­mit­ted sui­cide af­ter hav­ing spent three years in New York’s Rik­ers Is­land pri­son with­out be­ing for­mally charged with a crime. He did so again Fri­day night.

“No Amer­i­can should spend three years in jail with­out a trial,” he said.

In a brief in­ter­view with The Times be­fore his speech, Paul, who has la­beled him­self a “dif­fer­ent kind of Repub­li­can,” said his mes­sage of party out­reach to mi­nori­ties has res­onated.

“I don’t care if it’s in an all- white evan­gel­i­cal church or all-Repub­li­can gath­er­ing, peo­ple need to hear it,” he said. “I’m a be­liever that for the Repub­li­can Party to grow, we need to be a broader, more di­verse party.”

Speak­ing to the GOP au­di­ence, Paul’s crit­i­cism of Clin­ton cen­tered on her time as sec­re­tary of state.

“Hil­lary’s war in Libya made us less safe,” said Paul, adding that the attack on a diplo­matic com­pound in Benghazi that killed Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens and four other Amer­i­cans should “pre­clude” Clin­ton from be­ing pres­i­dent.

Of­ten pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates ven­ture to Cal­i­for­nia for a sin­gle pur­pose: to raise cam­paign cash. Paul’s visit is no ex­cep­tion. His week­end trip is dot­ted with fundrais­ers, along with an­other key- note ad­dress Satur­day at the Repub­li­can Party of San Diego’s Lin­coln Day din­ner.

While he re­mained in a con­ser­va­tive pocket of the state Fri­day, Paul has trav­eled to Cal­i­for­nia’s Demo­cratic strongholds more than any of the other GOP hope­fuls.

In the last year, he’s de­liv­ered a speech at UC Berke­ley and held dis­cus­sions in Sil­i­con Val­ley with Face­book and eBay ex­ec­u­tives. Last month he opened an of­fice in San Fran­cisco in an ef­fort to tap into the tech field and court donors who might find his lib­er­tar­ian lean­ings ap­peal­ing.

Paul, reg­u­larly as­sailed by more hawk­ish mem­bers of his party for be­ing an iso­la­tion­ist on for­eign pol­icy is­sues, said Fri­day that Pres­i­dent Obama’s re­cent an- nounce­ment that he will send 450 Amer­i­can troops to Iraq needs a con­gres­sional vote.

“ISIS is a threat to Amer­i­can in­ter­ests, and I think it’s im­por­tant enough for us to vote on it,” he said in the in­ter­view, us­ing an acro­nym for Is­lamic State. “The first thing the pres­i­dent should do is come to the Amer­i­can peo­ple and say why he wants to do this and then ask for a vote by Congress.”

An­other can­di­date, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham (R-S.C.), re­cently called for send­ing 10,000 troops to Iraq.

In the in­ter­view, Paul said that “boots are needed on the ground” to de­feat ISIS, but that they should be “Arab boots,” not Amer­i­can.

Among the wide field of Repub­li­cans, Paul is polling to­ward the mid­dle of the pack. For­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is ex­pected to an­nounce his can­di­dacy on Mon­day, has topped the field in many sur­veys.

Paul of­fered crit­i­cism of him on Fri­day when asked about Bush’s po­ten­tial weak­nesses.

“If you’re look­ing to broaden the party on the fact that he’s still for putting peo­ple in jail for us­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana, that’s not smart,” said Paul, who sup­ports medic­i­nal mar­i­juana but is op­posed to its recre­ational use. “It’s out of step with where the coun­try is mov­ing.”

Pho­tog raphs by Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

DUR­ING his Cal­i­for­nia visit, Ken­tucky Sen. Rand Paul, vy­ing for the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, has fundrais­ers and speeches planned.

“WE WERE THE PARTY of eman­ci­pa­tion, we were the party of civil rights, we can still be that party again,” Paul told a crowd of Or­ange County Repub­li­cans.

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