Tags: Trump Administration | Rand Paul | Rand Paul | blacks | African-Americans | outreach | minorities

Black Leaders Accuse Rand Paul of Opportunism in Outreach

Image: Black Leaders Accuse Rand Paul of Opportunism in Outreach
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By    |   Friday, 05 Dec 2014 12:21 PM

As Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul steps up his efforts to meet with black leaders throughout the country, there are some who suggest that his motives are driven by political calculations, Politico reported.

In interviews with the publication, more than a dozen black leaders from Paul's home state indicated they are skeptical about his commitment to minority issues, and they noted that he seems to have only been seen or heard from since he indicated his interest in running for president.

"I see Senator Paul as really being an opportunist here," Kentucky Democratic state Sen. Reggie Thomas told Politico. "His actions over the last couple years, now that he wants to run for president, really belie his feelings he's expressed."

Kentucky Democratic state Rep. Reginald Meeks expressed a similar view that Paul's recent efforts at outreach are politically motivated.

"For him or anyone else to think he can show up in our community, smile, shake a few hands, take a few pictures, and that represents something significant in terms of him conveying a message that answers the questions or addresses the issues we are concerned about," Meeks told Politico. "To me that's being pretty callous and pretty shallow."

Over the past year-and-a-half, Paul has stepped up his efforts to talk with the black community, both in private meetings and in public appearances at black colleges. He has also been vocal about the need for the Republican Party to be more effective in addressing minority concerns.

Separate to his efforts to reach black voters on the campaign trail, Paul has worked in the Senate to promote bills aimed at helping black Americans, ranging from the criminal justice system to voting rights.

And in a July appearance on Fox News' "Hannity," Paul said outreach to black voters would be a cornerstone of his political strategy going forward.

"I want to compete for the African-American vote by saying, 'You know what, Republicans have policies to help with poverty, to help with long-term unemployment,'" Paul said.

Most recently, he made a visit to Ferguson, Missouri, and has been in discussions with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker on criminal justice reform legislation.

"I don't think there has been anybody who has been a bigger defender of minority rights in the Congress than myself, and that's not saying others aren't trying as well," Paul told Salon last month, according to Politico.

Paul's Kentucky spokesman disputes allegations that his outreach is politically motivated.

"When Rand was running the first time, he was a Bowling Green [Kentucky] doctor," said Daniel Bayens told Politico. "He hadn't had the opportunity to hear from every corner of Kentucky or every corner of the country. Over the past four years, he's had the opportunity to hear from a lot more people, a lot of diverse backgrounds.

"I don’t think his underlying principles have changed," Bayens added, "But I think the ways in which he views some specific issues, and what he's been able to do on specific issues, has changed. He's found specific and broad areas of agreement with the African-American community and other minorities through that process."

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Politics
As Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul steps up his efforts to meet with black leaders throughout the country, there are some who suggest that his motives are driven by political calculations, Politico reported.
Rand Paul, blacks, African-Americans, outreach, minorities
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2014-21-05
Friday, 05 Dec 2014 12:21 PM
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