Rand Paul highlights 'undercurrent of unease'

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2016, made several stops in Metro Detroit Wednesday, boosting local candidates and promoting a rebranding for his party.

With the general election less than a week away, Paul appeared at Republican offices in Detroit and Livonia, where he stressed the need for the GOP to market itself differently. That message, he said, needs to reach both a new generation of voters and those who have only seen the Republican Party one way.

Rand appeared at the Republican office on Livernois Avenue in Detroit he helped open in December. At that appearance, Republican officials spoke of the need for greater outreach among the Democratic-leaning residents of Detroit and taking new approaches to longstanding issues that have plagued cities like Detroit.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., campaigning for Michigan Republicans during a stop at a Detroit GOP office in Detroit on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, he picked up where he left off 10 months ago.

Paul talked about the inequity of the justice system and its handling of minorities, particularly with regard to sentencing in minor drug cases. He addressed the inability of inner-city kids to get the same high-quality education as their suburban peers.

"There is an undercurrent of unease in our country," Paul said. "That unease has to do with poverty, unemployment — things aren't quite right. When you look at incarceration, you see a disproportionate amount of people of color in jail even though when you look at statistics on drug use, it seems to be about equal between all the different races."

Paul also touted his proposal for economic freedom zones as a means of generating $1.3 billion in revenue for Detroit. The zones would cut individual and corporate income taxes to a flat rate of 5 percent in areas hardest hit by unemployment, as well as lower payroll taxes and eliminate capital gains taxes.

"The problem Republicans have had is that it appears we don't care," Paul said while addressing community members in Detroit. "But then again, what are Democrats doing for Detroit?

"...We have to say sending money to Washington, swishing it around the bureaucracy and trying to get some back may not be as helpful as never taking it from Detroit in the first place," he said. "It's also politically more palatable."

Later Wednesday, Paul addressed a group of roughly 100 supporters in Livonia, offering his support to Dave Trott, the Republican candidate for Michigan's 11th Congressional District seat. Trott faces Democrat Bobby McKenzie of Canton Township on Tuesday and his message for Wednesday's audience in Livonia was similar to Paul's.

"I want to go (to Washington) and get the federal government out of the way ...," said Trott, the Birmingham lawyer. "Aside from what our constitution calls for, I want to get the federal government out of the way because, quite simply, the federal government doesn't do most things very well."

Rand was scheduled Wednesday evening to address the Oakland County GOP's 125th annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Rochester.


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