CINCINNATI: Potential Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Friday in a visit to swing state Ohio that the GOP needs to broaden its appeal.
The Kentucky senator was the featured speaker Friday evening for the Hamilton County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner. Paul took part in a school choice discussion earlier Friday at a Cincinnati public charter school, and later said the GOP needs to try harder with every ethnic group.
“The Republican Party needs to be bigger, bolder and better,” Paul told reporters. “I think we can be all of those things. We have to reach out to new people.”
He said Ohio “is the microcosm of the problems that the Republican Party has.” He said that while Republicans are winning offices in the state, it has gone Democratic in the last two presidential elections.
“In order for us to win in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, these states, we have to reach out and appeal to people who haven’t been attracted to the party before,” Paul said in an interview. “Because if we keep doing the same old, same old, we’re going to get the same result, which means we’ll get our butt whupped again.”
He said, for example, that Republicans can reach out to black voters by offering more economic and education opportunities with new approaches.
A favorite of the tea party, Paul said he believes the movement focused against government debt is still very active, although tea party candidates have faltered in primaries this year. He said it’s not an exactly defined movement, with variations in different places and sometimes multiple candidates asserting they are tea party candidates.
“It’s not like you have a membership card,” he said. “I think the movement is alive and well. The election results are murkier.”
Paul, who has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s drone-strike policy, plans to filibuster on the Senate floor to try to block judicial nominee David Barron, who authored secret legal opinions for justifying the killing of an American-born al-Qaida leader, Anwar al-Awlaki.
“They’re tough questions, but I think they need to be decided in public and debated,” Paul said. “I think honest people can be on either side of these issues. But if you are going to kill an American citizen, I don’t think the rationale should be secret ... it needs to be out in the open.”
After taking part in the roundtable led by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Paul said he plans on going to “a lot of places in Ohio.” He said he’ll be back in July for a National Urban League speech in Cincinnati.
He has said he expects to decide on a 2016 presidential run after this November’s elections.