Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paul Says Gop Needs Diversity to Win Elections

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paul Says Gop Needs Diversity to Win Elections

Article excerpt

The Republican Party must attract a more diverse group of voters if it is to win important statewide and national elections, Sen. Rand Paul argued Friday.

Paul, R-Ky., made his pitch while endorsing former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in his run for U.S. Senate against Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

"The Republicans can win in New Jersey the same way Republicans can win in a presidential election: if we become a bigger party," Paul said. "Black, white, brown -- we need a party that looks like the rest of America."

Paul, who has built a national reputation as a Tea Party-backed libertarian, said Republicans' positions will benefit minorities and the urban poor -- two groups that traditionally vote Democratic -- as much as they will help other Americans.

Lonegan is facing an uphill battle ahead of the Oct. 16 special election. A poll released this week gave Booker, who has broad name recognition and is running in a state with 700,000 more registered Democrats, a 35-point advantage over Lonegan.

Urban problems and race have already emerged in the campaign. Last month, Lonegan told reporters that he had a "handicap" because he is "a white guy running in the state of New Jersey."

In an interview with The Record on Thursday, Paul said he was not familiar with that comment.

Booker, an African-American who leads New Jersey's largest city, has positioned himself as a candidate familiar with America's urban problems.

Booker has delivered speeches and released policy papers detailing how he thinks the country should end child poverty, improve education and change the criminal justice system.

Portions of Paul's speech echoed some of the Newark mayor's arguments.

Paul said America needed to fix its "crappy schools" and needed to stop "incarcerating people for five, 10, 15 years for non- violent, youthful mistakes."

"People say African-Americans are being denied the right to vote by driver's license," Paul said, referring to efforts in some states to require people to present photo identification before voting. …

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