Rand Paul: Republican brand 'sucks' and is 'broken'

Story highlights

  • Rand Paul has christened himself a different kind of Republican: tree hugger.
  • Paul has tried to cast himself as a fresher Republican face who can appeal to new audiences.

Washington (CNN)Presidential candidate Rand Paul has christened himself a different kind of Republican, and now he's embracing a unique moniker: tree hugger.

In a new book released on Tuesday, Paul said he composts and believes in clean air and clean water. Paul notes that he has planted giant sequoias in his yard and repurposed old trees used for a fort to build compost bins.
"None of this is at odds with wanting our government to be smaller, with wanting our regulatory bodies to protect both our land and water," Paul wrote in his third book, "Taking a Stand: Moving beyond partisan politics to unite America."
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    "It boggles my mind to think that somehow Republicans have been branded as a party that doesn't like the environment," he said, pointing to avowed conservationist Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
    Paul also details his history planting trees and flowers at his house in Bowling Green, Kentucky and his childhood home in Lake Jackson, Texas. Some trees he has planted in Bowling Green are now 40-feet tall, according to the candidate.
    "I'm a crunchy conservative and a tree hugger and proud of it," Paul writes.
    Paul has tried to cast himself as a fresher Republican face who can appeal to new audiences, such as environmentalists. Paul has stressed repeatedly that the GOP needs to win over African-Americans and Hispanics, a point he returns to in the book.
    The Kentucky senator wrote that the tension he has tried to soothe between the GOP and people of color is deep and complicated, but ultimately salvageable. That is if Republicans recognize that, admit it and make this minority outreach a priority.
    "My Republican Party, the Republican Party I hope to lead to the White House, is willing to change," Paul wrote in his third book,
    Paul puts the blame on the Republican Party's image, which he says is "broken" and scares away minority voters even though they should be attracted to the GOP.
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    "Right now, the Republican brand sucks. I promised Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, that I would stop saying the GOP sucks, and I will (except for this last time)," Paul writes. "I believe the Republican Party and minorities have common ground."
    Paul has made outreach to traditionally Democratic constituencies a cornerstone of both his contrast with his Republican rivals and of his potential general election argument. And the Kentucky Republican sprinkles in stories from his unorthodox trips to historically black colleges like Howard University throughout the 286-page campaign manifesto.

    The presidential hopeful has also emphasized criminal justice reform in the Senate, an issue that he believes gives him some bona fides when talking to communities of color that are disproportionately affected by current enforcement and sentencing.
    Despite that effort, his messaging challenge is that "what Republicans offer is less tangible than a government check," which is what Paul suggests the Democrats are offering. He acknowledges that many minorities may not even consider voting for a Republican even with these overtures.
    But that doesn't mean Republicans shouldn't try, he says. Paul has frequently lamented that not enough Republicans even attempt to woo the disadvantaged, pitching himself as a different kind of Republican willing to outwork the traditional leadership.
    "The Republican Party can rightly serve minority communities if we stay true to our core, be open to new ideas, and boldly profess what we believe," Paul writes.