Paul: GOP must outreach if it wants to prosper
Was in S.C. for third time this year
CHARLESTON, S.C. | Visiting one of the key early-voting states in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Monday that it will be at least a year before he decides whether to enter the 2016 presidential race, but warned that the party must better reflect the makeup of America for any Republican candidate to succeed.
“We can win South Carolina for the next 50 years probably — Kentucky, too — but if you want to win Illinois or you want to win Ohio, or you want to win California or New York we have to be a bigger party,” the first-term senator told about 75 people attending a party fundraiser here.
“We’ve got to look like the rest of America. We’ve got to do it with tattoos, without tattoos, with earrings, with ponytails, everybody,” he said. “We’re going to have some disagreements, but we need more people in the party. And when we do that, we’ll be the dominant party again.”
Mr. Paul, a favorite of tea party and other conservative Republicans, is visiting South Carolina for the third time this year. He has also made recent trips to other early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. South Carolina has the first GOP presidential primary in the South in 2016.
On Tuesday, Mr. Paul is scheduled to address cadets at The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college.
Following the fundraiser, Mr. Paul told reporters he likely will stay out of the South Carolina GOP Senate primary in which incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham faces a growing field of conservative challengers.
The State newspaper reported Monday that the field against Mr. Graham continued to swell with Bill Connor, a lawyer and Army veteran who lost a 2010 Republican runoff for lieutenant governor, filing to run in June’s primary. State Sen. Lee Bright, businessman Richard Cash and Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of The Citadel, also are running against the incumbent.
The race is one of a string of Republican Senate primary battles for 2014 pitting a party moderate against more conservative, often tea party-backed challengers.
Mr. Paul said he doesn’t think it is necessary for a GOP presidential hopeful to appeal to conservative voters to get the nomination and then move back to the middle during the general election.
“If people perceive you as tacking one way or another as a strategy or as something that is not sincere, it’s probably not good for you,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone has accused me too much of going to the center yet. I’m still for all the things I’m for on taxes and regulation and a balanced budget. I don’t think any of that needs to be watered down. I think that message is popular,” he added.
But Mr. Paul said there are other libertarian issues that will appeal to voters beyond the conservative Republican base, suggesting the party can appeal to younger voters upset with National Security Agency surveillance of Americans.
“If you have a Republican who defends the Fourth Amendment like they defend the Second Amendment, I think that changes things,” he said.
The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures; the Second Amendment protects citizens’ rights to bear arms.
“We’ve got to look like the rest of America,” Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, says of the GOP while on a visit Monday in South Carolina.