Rand Paul is the latest Republican to tell his party to open up to a wider range of views within its ranks.
“The party can be big enough to allow people who don't all agree on every issue,” Senator Paul told an audience in California, a state that produced three Republican presidents in the 20th century but now votes reliably Democratic.
“When the Republican Party looks like the rest of America, we'll win again,” he said.
Like other politicians who have advocated a “bigger-tent” philosophy for their party, the US senator from Kentucky says this doesn’t mean leaving strongly held principles behind. “It's not going to change who I am or what I talk about but I think we can be a big enough party to include people," Paul said at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Friday evening.
Paul, the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul (R) of Texas, has become a standard bearer for many libertarian conservatives. His recent book is titled “Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds.”
The theme of government overstepping its bounds is one that’s been resonating with many Americans lately, amid controversies over the use of armed drones to combat terrorist threats and over IRS scrutiny of conservative political groups that sought tax-exempt status.
In recent weeks, Paul’s name has been mentioned increasingly as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016. His lecture-and-dinner event at the Reagan Library was sold out.
In a new Quinnipiac University poll, Paul is viewed favorably by most Americans who are aware of him. But lots of people still have no opinion of him. In the poll, 32 percent viewed him favorably, 24 percent unfavorably, and 40 percent “haven’t heard enough” to render judgment.
Hillary Clinton, a potential rival on the Democratic side in 2016, scored a 52 percent “favorable” rating in the same poll, with 40 percent unfavorable and only 7 percent saying they haven’t heard enough to know.
In his Friday talk, Paul sought to define himself, among other things, as a Republican who cares about the environment.
“I bike and hike and kayak. I compost,” he said. “I plant trees. In fact, I have a giant Sequoia I’m trying to grow in Kentucky.”