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Rand Paul Aims to Transform GOP by Wooing African American Voters

Rand Paul might give the Republicans a solid base from which it will benefit for generations to come.

MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) – On Wednesday, US Senator Rand Paul said what many Republicans do not want to hear, but need to pay attention to as the Congressional elections near: their brand “sucks”.

“Remember Domino’s Pizza? They admitted, “Hey, our pizza crust sucks.” The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don’t want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans,” the politician hailing from Kentucky said, as quoted by Hill newspaper. The senator made these remarks while campaigning in the Sherwood Forest, a predominantly African American neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan.

The Republicans are expected to perform well during the midterms and may win a majority in the Senate. However, they need to put more effort into attracting women, young voters, as well as ethnic and racial minorities to maintain a majority in Congressional elections and compete for the White House in 2016. Rand Paul, a likely president candidate, has long urged the Republican Party to become more inclusive.

“We have to reach out to more people,” the senator said at a Washington DC event in late February, as quoted by CBS News. Paul insisted that the GOP “has to be a bigger party, it has to be a bigger movement.” The issue is not the GOP message itself, the senator believes. “Our brand isn’t so good but if you get to our policies… If I can get to that young person and talk about the issue, I think, Republicans have a chance. But our brand is so broken, we cannot break through the wall that is out there,” Rand Paul told CNN. In his view, “the problem is the perception … that no one in the Republican Party cares.”

However, improving the brand would require Republicans to reinvent themselves and embrace policies that benefit wider constituency. Rand Paul, for instance, has made reaching out to African Americans one of his top priorities. The senator is campaigning to fight poverty and long-term unemployment. He is an outspoken advocate of privacy. He supports fair sentencing for drug-related offences and broader voting rights. All these issues appeal to minority voters. “If Republicans have a clue and do this and go out and ask every African-American for their vote, I think we can transform an election in one cycle,” the Senator told Politico last month.

Paul has been aggressively courting African-American voters. The senator spoke to African-American leaders in Ferguson, Missouri, a scene of large-scale protests following a fatal shooting of a teenager. Paul delivered a speech at a convention of the National Urban League, a civil rights organization advocating against racial discrimination in the US. He opened a GOP engagement office in West Louisville, Kentucky, named after civil rights activist William Warley.

Although some Republicans have enjoyed significant support of the African American community, the demographic has for decades largely been loyal to the Democrats. If Rand Paul can turn this trend around, he might give the Republicans a solid base from which it will benefit for generations to come.

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