FORT WORTH — The factions of the Republican Party need to reduce internal divisions and be fully aware of the nation’s shifting demographics, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Friday in an interview with The Texas Tribune.
Paul, who was in town to address the state GOP convention, said that the Tea Party and establishment aspects of the Republican Party had to “figure out how to get along with each other first” and then realize that the party needs to be more welcoming and diverse as demographics shift, particularly as the Hispanic population grows.
“There are not enough Republicans to win the presidency or national election, so we need to attract new people to our party,” Paul said, adding that Republicans needed to reach out to Hispanic voters and explain that the party’s “policies are open to finding a place for them in our country.”
While Hispanics only make up a third of the eligible voters of the state, their population is expected to become a plurality by 2020, and Democrats hoping to become competitive in the state again are hinging their hopes on mobilizing Hispanic voters to turn out. Others have also said that if Republicans lose Texas and its 38 electoral votes, it would prove difficult for them to be able to win back the White House.
Paul said the Republican Party needed to “adapt, evolve or die” at the national level and in Texas when it comes out Hispanic outreach — even if Republicans think Democrats can’t win because the state is reliably red.
“That’s probably true today but within 10 years it may not be true,” he said. “If they just say, ‘We don’t care about the Hispanic or Latino vote,’ they no longer will be the dominant party.”
Paul declined to comment on the ongoing debate over the immigration language in the Republican Party of Texas platform, saying he didn’t know enough about it.
As it stands, the state party platform no longer includes language supporting a guest-worker program, which was approved last year. Instead it has been replaced by a provisional visa program, which is also meant to include immigrants looking to come to the country to work. The platform must still be approved by the whole convention.
Paul indicated that a guest visa program for workers could be the best solution for Republicans and Democrats to find middle ground.
“If you want to work in America and you’re law-abiding, we need to find a way to find a place for you, which for me is work visas,” he said.
Paul, who has been considered a possible presidential candidate in 2016, said he is considering a bid but added that “it’s too early” for him to decide. Asked about U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry, whose names have also been considered in the pool of potential candidates, Paul said they were friends and colleagues but he doesn’t “have any particular thoughts about” potentially campaigning against them.