Rand Paul was a man of the people Monday in Rock Hill.
The Republican U.S. senator from Kentucky grabbed a plate of barbecue and sat down with Ron and Marge Wilson of Rock Hill and Nancy Anderson of Chester for some dinner chit-chat.
He renewed an acquaintance with Dr. James Wood, chief medical officer at Piedmont Medical Center. Wood and Paul, an ophthalmologist, had performed surgeries together in Atlanta.
“He has great hands,” Wood said.
Paul came to Rock Hill to endorse the re-election bid of U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, to promote expanding the Republican Party and possibly to lay the groundwork for a presidential run in 2016. He said he has not decided whether to run, but coming to early primary states such as South Carolina is important “to getting my points across.”
Speaking to the capacity crowd at the Magnolia Room, Paul discussed what he says it will take for the Republican Party to be more relevant and to win more elections.
“We need to get more voters in the cities, particularly among African-Americans,” Paul said. “To get bigger you have to get bigger. We need to be bigger, better and bolder.”
It’s a problem the Republican Party has struggled with for many years without nationwide success.
Paul said one way to do things differently is to “reach the people where they are.”
In areas where poverty is high and jobs are few, Paul would create “economic freedom zones” where most of the federal taxes a business would pay would stay in the zone, creating more investment and, ideally, jobs.
To bring young voters into the Republican vote column, Paul said, it’s important to stress the privacy protection of the Fourth Amendment, especially when it comes to what is on a person’s cellphone.
“You can’t keep the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) without the Fourth Amendment,” Paul said.
Glenn McCall of Rock Hill, a South Carolina representative on the Republican National Committee, has served with Paul on the party’s “Growth and Opportunity Project.”
“Paul’s message is right on,” said McCall, who is black. “We have become the Southern party. If we want to win, we have to get our message to people of color.”
Events such as Monday’s need to happen at all levels, said McCall, who praised Mulvaney for meeting with local NAACP chapters.
Other Republicans need to follow Paul’s and Mulvaney’s examples, he said.
And while McCall pointed out that people of color attended Mulvaney’s fundraiser on Monday, the majority of attendees were white.
“We need local officials to go out and engage,” McCall said, “to help change perceptions.”