Rand Paul Talks Expanding the GOP in Simi Valley
On Friday Senator Rand Paul wrapped up a week-long visit to California, mostly spent meeting with tech company executives, with a speech at the Reagan Library about expanding the GOP’s base.
He talked about reaching out to Hispanic voters by passing immigration reform, black voters by emphasizing school choice and reforming the criminal justice system, and young people by deemphasizing social issues while prioritizing civil liberties and foreign policy restraint. He also channeled his crunchy con side:
“I am a libertarian-conservative who spends most of my free time outdoors,” Paul said during his 30-minute speech in Simi Valley, Calif. “I bike and hike and kayak. I compost. I plant trees. In fact, I have a giant Sequoia I’m trying to grow in Kentucky.
“Republicans care just as deeply about the environment as Democrats but we also care about jobs,” he added. “We want common sense regulations to be balanced with economic growth and jobs.”
To be sure, Paul also offered strong support for fracking in his speech. He said California’s economy would be in much better shape if it did not restrict the controversial practice.
“So while California languishes, economies in states like North Dakota and Texas are booming,” he said.
Finding common ground between some of these constituencies is likely to be a pretty difficult task for Paul, as Jim Antle wrote in these pages last week:
Sometimes his efforts to broaden the party’s appeal have sat uneasily alongside his quest to be the most reliable Tea Party conservative. This has led him to thread some important needles—and also occasionally sound too equivocal. Issues like marriage, abortion, immigration, and even drugs may prove difficult to straddle.
Gillespie worries that if “Paul continues to send significantly different messages to different audiences, he will end up alienating all his possible supporters.”
And it must be said that while many libertarians are more socially traditional, that generally doesn’t apply to the silicon-valley types the senator is courting, who tend to favor abortion rights and immigration.
The senator also made a crack during the Q&A about a photo taken during John McCain’s trip to Syria in which he had enough trouble telling good rebels from bad that he ended up posing with kidnappers, some of whose victims still haven’t been released.