After winning just 6% of the black vote during the 2012 presidential election, the GOP commissioned an "autopsy report" detailing their inability to connect with minorities. That autopsy report must have had Republicans seeing their poltical lives flash before their eyes, because ever sinc, they've been shifting positions. On Wednesday, GOP senator Rand Paul will speak at Howard University according to The National Journal.
Paul will be delivering a speech at Howard University on Wednesday, where he’ll talk about “the importance of outreach to younger voters, as well as minority groups,” according to his office. He also plans to address school choice and civil liberties.
The Kentucky Republican’s appearance echoes the recommendations made in the Republican National Committee’s autopsy report, detailing why the party lost the 2012 election and urging the party to court minority and young voters. Paul’s positions on foreign policy, Internet freedom, and reforming drug laws appeal to younger voters on college campuses. He also has targeted mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes, which disproportionately affects African-Americans.
For a southern Republican senator to speak at the D.C. HBCU is as rare as you imagine it is.
The choice of venue for Paul’s speech is also notable. Howard University rarely draws prominent Republican speakers to campus: Colin Powell gave Howard’s commencement speech in 1994, and in 1981, then-Vice President Bush received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement speech. But George W. Bush declined the invitation to speak at Howard during his 2000 campaign, and Al Gore spoke instead. The younger Bush’s name was floated to deliver the 2002 commencement speech, which was met with wide protest.
Paul has a plethora of libertarian positions that may limit his popularity within the African-American community, but he's one of the least insular politicians in a partisan Congress. He probably won't garner any votes–especially in D.C., but you have to give credit where credit is due. Unlike most Republicans, his talk of outreach isn't just lip service.