Former Oklahoma congressman and conservative rock-star J.C. Watts endorsed [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]’s presidential bid last week.
Since then, he has been busy. Last night, he went to bat for Paul on MSNBC (watch here). This morning, he emceed Paul’s presidential announcement. Why is this Newt 2012 supporter backing [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] in 2016?
Here is what he told Chris Matthews:
Well, Rand, Chris obviously has some libertarian leanings but I think he has the right perspective and I think he wants to do the right thing. And over the last two and a half years that I’ve been talking to him, that I’ve had his ear, I think he’s wanted to learn, and I think the things that he’s done he’s not just taken on just your typical conservative issues on the social side and on the economic side, but he’s gone much further than that and he’s gone into nontraditional constituencies.
I think he’s tried to be very consistent in striking up a dialogue with those nontraditional constituencies. And I think that’s what we need. You know, post-Jack Kemp, I’ve been looking for somebody that would offer up himself or herself to have this type of dialogue, more than a narrow constituency…
Again, he’s talked about things in the last four years that most conservatives would be afraid of getting voted off the island if they were talking about those type of things. And obviously he’s made some mistakes. He’s evolving. But I think he is honestly — he has honestly made the case to me that J.C., I want to have the right perspective, I want to learn, I want to go to the next — take the country to the next level in so many areas.
And, Chris, we’re so focused on the 30,000-foot level on so many of these issues that we don’t get down to the 300-foot level and have a dialogue, have a conversation, have deeper relationships, and I honestly think that he wants to do that.
Watts has been preaching minority outreach for a long time. So did his colleague, Jack Kemp. And Paul has even adopted Kemp’s old tax-enterprise zone idea as the conservative alternative to bailouts. (Paul is also similar to Kemp on other issues, including opposition to nation building and reckless monetary policies).
Reaching non-traditionally Republican voting blocs is going to be crucial if the GOP is to survive. There is no reason why Republicans should accept a foregone conclusion that blacks and Hispanics will vote for Democrats.
Emphasizing the trifecta of school choice, economic opportunity, and criminal justice reform is a winning formula that Paul is capitalizing on. And they are all based on conservative principles. The key is talking to minority groups, not at them. Paul and Watts get that, and their efforts should be commended.