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Springfield’s University Plaza Hotel played host to Lincoln Days over the weekend, an annual celebration of the Missouri GOP. KSMU’s Shane Franklin attended the event’s keynote address and has this story.
In addition to numerous state Republicans, U.S. Congressman Billy Long, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Rand Paul were in attendance.
Paul, Saturday evening’s keynote speaker, paced back and forth on stage, often addressing what he felt were the abuses of an out of control federal government. Paul suggested Republicans tackle the issue with a more diverse party that “looks like America.”
“We need people with tattoos, and without tattoos, with earrings and without earrings, ponytails, I saw a guy here with a ponytail and that’s okay. We’re going to look like the rest of America, and that also means black, white, brown. We need to be a more accepting party,” said Paul.
Paul, a possible presidential candidate in 2016, also recommended three actions to show good faith to minorities that tend to align more with the values of the Democratic Party.
“So if we talk about school choice, and economic freedom zones in areas of poverty, and also talk about trying to make our drug laws more fair to everybody, I think we have a chance to really grow our base of who we attract in our party,” said Paul.
Paul says the War on Drugs disproportionately targets minorities. He spoke of a case in his home state of Kentucky where a man was sentenced to 55 years in prison for marijuana trafficking, while in the same state a person can get out of prison for murder in 12 years. He says the laws are not fair.
US Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri added that it is key that a more effective story be told of how America is defined by freedom, the Constitution, and opportunity.
“The way we do that is grow our party. The way we do that is multiply who we are. The way we do that is add to who we are, not divide and subtract. That’s why we need leaders that bring people together, leaders that attract more people to us than we had last time,” said Blunt.
Blunt said if the Republican Party wants to take back power from an over reaching federal government, then they need to be more efficient at spreading an inclusive message in a way that grows the party’s base.
For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.