Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was in Detroit to address the bankrupt city's economic leaders and to make a Republican pitch for the African American vote, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Paul's appearance Friday was timed to happen together with the GOP's opening of an African American outreach office in Detroit where the population is 85 percent black.
He said that the justice system— and the war on drugs in particular— was unfair to African Americans and Latinos. Paul said people who have been to prison for drug related crimes can't vote and have difficulty finding jobs complicating their efforts to put their lives back together.
"How are you supposed to make child support payments if you've been in prison, and the best job you can get is $9 an hour?"
He said, "Something has to change. The war on drugs has gone awry"
Paul acknowledged that "These are things you haven't heard Republicans talking about. So I'm glad to be part of this today, not only just to mean that Republicans are showing up where we haven't been, but with a new message and policy."
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has opened a number of outreach offices across the country to establish a presence among African American voters. RNC chair Reince Priebus said in November
that the party wanted to "do our part to rebuild Detroit and advocate for the principles of free enterprise that hold the keys to the city's success. We can offer solutions to get Detroit back on its feet."
Priebus said that Republican leaders need to convince the people of Detroit to give GOP ideas a chance. He hired radio personality Wayne Bradley as the director of African American Engagement in Michigan.
"Today's opening of this office is the beginning of a new Republican Party," Paul said. "This is going to be a Republican Party that is in big cities and small cities, in the countryside, in the city. It's going to be about bringing a message that is popular no matter where you're from, whether you're rich or poor, whether you're black, white or brown."
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