We’ve said before that Rand Paul is not like other Republicans. The media has noticed this. Others are starting to see this as well.
Paul is speaking both directly and indirectly to black voters in a way the community hasn’t seen in decades from a prospective GOP presidential candidate.
“He’s done what most conventional Republicans would be too fearful to do — dive into situations that would make them uncomfortable,” says Ron Christie, an African-American lawyer and GOP commentator who worked in the George W. Bush administration.
“I find it fascinating that he has gone into communities where Republicans typically don’t connect, and don’t listen,” Christie says. (NPR)
While in Memphis for the RNC’s spring meeting, Rand Paul spoke with the Coalition of African American Pastors saying that he was willing to fight for their vote:
I want to take issues that I believe in strongly, that I think will resonate strongly in the African-American community and say, ‘I want your vote. And I want to compete for that vote.’ And I think it’s good for both sides. Not only for the Republican Party, I think it’s good for the African-American community to say to both parties, you have to come get my vote, we’re not a guaranteed vote for the Democrats anymore,” Paul said. (WHAS11)
The founder of the Coalition agreed that Democrats shouldn’t take for granted the black vote:
“If a Democrat says, ‘That’s right, that’s right,’ I think that’s for people who can’t think,” said Pastor Owens. “They can dialog. Let us hear from you. Don’t ignore us. That’s what happened in the last election.” (WMC)
Those at the Memphis RNC meeting felt strongly enough to say that Rand Paul could easily win the party’s presidential nomination, but that still leaves one question: is he mainstream enough for the rest of America?
“We had some folks that are categorized as ‘establishment’ or whatever, who told me that if Rand Paul could speak at every convention, I think everyone would see him as a mainstream guy,” Maine national committeeman Alex Willette said. (Politico)
Even if Paul spoke at every convention, even if he’s broader than just a libertarian candidate, as RNC committeeman Louis Pope describes him, can Paul do what other Republicans have failed to do?
Mr. Paul admitted he still had a lot of work to do. Sometimes, he said, his audiences tell him: “I like what you’re saying. I’m still not voting for you.”
“That’s why you’ve got to keep saying it,” he said. (New York Times)
Ouch. However, black voters are listening, we’re listening, when he brings up sentencing reform and school choice. If a Republican candidate can show that he is committed to civil rights, this could change how African-Americans vote, according to an NAACP poll. It could change how many people vote when they see someone who’s willing to face obstacles and even get uncomfortable to change the way things have been done for almost 40 years within the GOP.
WATCH: Clip of Rand Paul at the Coalition of African American Pastors
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