Just days after warning his party that it will lose its electoral grip on Texas if it doesn’t broaden its appeal, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered an even more dire prediction on Thursday: Forget losing Texas – the GOP might never win a presidential election again if it doesn’t change its tune.
“I think Republicans will not win again in my lifetime…unless they become a new GOP, a new Republican Party,” Paul said during an interview with conservative radio host Glenn Beck that aired Thursday. “And it has to be a transformation. Not a little tweaking at the edges.”
The Kentucky Republican said the GOP needs to do a better job of tailoring specific messages to specific groups.
With young people, he said, he would stress an opposition to excessive government surveillance and a respect for personal privacy. And among minority communities, he said, a message of criminal justice reform – including changes to the “war on drugs” and sentencing laws – would resonate.
“There are many people who are open among all these disaffected groups, who really aren’t steadfast supporters of Obama or an ideology,” he explained. “I think they’re open to listening, but we have to have a better message and a better presentation of it.”
Paul said he welcomes a robust debate within the party about how to move forward.
“There is a struggle going on within the Republican Party,” he said. “I tell people it’s not new, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the fact that there is a struggle. And I will struggle to make the Republican Party a different party, a bigger party, a more diverse party, and a party that can win national elections again.”
And he compared this new attempt to rejuvenate the GOP to Ronald Reagan’s own effort to refashion the party after Watergate, when he challenged then-President Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976.
“Everybody told Reagan to sit back and shut up,” Paul recalled. “They told him it wasn’t his time, and it wasn’t going to be his time. The establishment wanted Ford…It was bitterly fought, but in the end, Reagan won and the party became a better place, at least for a while. We need to have that debate again, and we need to be a bigger, stronger party.”
It may surprise Paul to hear that even some Democrats are hoping the Republican Party can resuscitate itself.Vice President Biden told the House Democratic caucus at a policy conference on Friday that Democrats should hope Republicans can pull themselves together – if only for the sake of having a viable negotiating partner.
“There isn’t a Republican party,” he lamented. “I wish there were, I wish there was a Republican party. I wish there was one person we could sit across the table from and make a deal and make the compromise and know when you got up from the table that the deal was done.”
“All you had to do was look at their response to the State of the Union, what were there, three or four?” he added. “I think we should get a little focused here, let's get a little focused.”