The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 22, 2014

Paul says Republicans have chance to grow base

Kentucky senator reluctant to criticize potential 2016 rivals

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Republican presidential prospect Rand Paul rallied Missouri Republicans in Springfield on Saturday, calling on party faithful to reach out to a broader set of Americans than it has before.

Speaking to a packed ballroom at the Missouri Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Days gathering, Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky who has made no secret his interest in running for president in 2016, said Republicans “need a party that looks more like America.

“I think we have a chance of growing the base of our party,” Paul said, if Republicans focus on allowing for school choice, making drug laws more fair to poor Americans, and implementing “economic freedom zones” to dramatically lower taxes in areas of high unemployment.

Paul said he disagreed with people like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who have suggested the next Republican presidential nominee ought to be a state governor but would not directly criticize any of his potential 2016 rivals when asked.

Speaking with reporters, Paul said he was no closer to a decision on a 2016 bid, other than to say that Missouri could be a bellwether state and that it was important for Republicans to focus attention here.

Paul was in Missouri on Saturday at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who introduced him as “the Senate’s leading advocate for freedom.” Blunt said he has sponsored more than 130 bills with Paul, despite the fact that he has disagreed with him at times on certain issues.

“There is no single member of the Senate that I agree with on everything, and that includes Rand Paul,” Blunt said.

Paul and Blunt railed against perceived overspending and overreach by government regulations. Blunt noted that he and Paul sponsored legislation together that would require Congress to approve many government regulations that would have a significant economic impact.

Nick Myers, chairman of the Newton County Republican Central Committee, served as the master of ceremonies at the dinner Saturday night. He served as president of the Missouri Association of Republicans in 2014, which organizes the dinner. Myers said Saturday’s event brought a record turnout in a relatively quiet year for statewide elections.

Over the weekend in Springfield, Missouri Republicans also heard from the state auditor, Tom Schweich, who is on the ballot in November. As other Republicans, such as former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, are already announcing statewide bids for 2016. Schweich said Republicans should not forget about his race or state legislative races happening this year.

“What I’m committed to do at the top of your ticket this year is win with a tremendous margin and having huge momentum for future years so we can win back those other statewide offices,” he said.

Joplin-area lawmakers were in attendance for some of the events. State Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, participated in events on Friday night, and Reps. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, and Bill White, R-Joplin, were on hand for the dinner Saturday evening.

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