Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. , has his photo taken with Linda Stikle, of Anamosa, Iowa, after speaking at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner event, Friday, May 10, 2013, at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. AP)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Friday that the Republican Party needs to reach out to minority voters to have any hope of keeping up with an increasingly diverse electorate.
In an unmistakeable sign that he's already gearing up for the 2016 presidential race, Paul told attendees at the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner that the GOP needs to broaden its appeal, particularly to black and Latino voters.
"As a party we need to grow bigger and...attract the Latino vote," Paul said. "This is a very practical thing and I'm not ashamed to admit it. We need to attract the Latino vote, we need to attract the African-American vote. It is somewhat of a gateway issue and we have to change the way we are talking about it and who we are if we are going to attract the Latino vote."
Paul, who has previously spoken about the need for immigration reform, said he could potentially vote for the current pending legislation as long as stronger border security was added.
He said illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. have "de-facto amnesty" anyway, and that Republicans "need to treat immigrants with dignity and respect."
"Their kids will be voting and if their kids think we're hostile, they're never going to vote for us," Paul said.
He added, "We're an increasingly diverse nation and I think we do need to reach out to other people that don't look like us, don't wear the same clothes, that aren't exactly who we are. We need to reach out, we're going to have to do something."