2016 prospect Rand Paul in new book: GOP willing to change

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul reaches out in his most direct way yet to African Americans in a new book that highlights his libertarian policies on government surveillance, the economy and criminal justice reform.

"My party has let the bond it once enjoyed with minorities fray to the point that it is near beyond repair," the Kentucky senator writes in "Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America," set to be released later this month. He continued, "My Republican Party, the Republican Party I hope to lead to the White House, is willing to change."

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2016 prospect Rand Paul in new book: GOP willing to change
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., signs an autograph for a supporter after speaking at Arizona State University Friday, May 8, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. departs in an elevator after speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, calling for the 28 classified pages of the 9-11 report to be declassified. Paul has been voicing his dissent in the Senate against a House bill backed by the president that would end the National Security Agency's collection of American calling records while preserving other surveillance authorities. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. smiles before speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, to call for the 28 classified pages of the 9-11 report to be declassified. Paul has been voicing his dissent in the Senate against a House bill backed by the president that would end the National Security Agency's collection of American calling records while preserving other surveillance authorities. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks at a rally Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sits in the audience prior to testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine the need to reform asset forfeiture. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., takes questions during a meet and greet at the Epoch Restaurant in Exeter, N.H., Saturday, March 21, 2015. Paul is traveling through New Hampshire this weekend, hosting several events with local leaders, business owners and activists. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., listens to a question at the Epoch Restaurant in Exeter, N.H., Saturday, March 21, 2015. Paul is traveling through New Hampshire this weekend, hosting several events with local leaders, business owners and activists. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
In this March 21, 2015 file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. participates in a meet and greet at the Epoch Restaurant in Exeter, N.H. Few states have shaped presidential politics like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. By hosting the nation’s first presidential primary contests, the states have reaped political and financial rewards for decades on successful candidates and hastened the end for underachievers. Yet their clout may be declining in 2016. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, File)
FILE - In this March 20, 2015, file photo, Sen., Rand Paul, R-Ky. speaks in Manchester, N.H. Ready to enter the Republican chase for the party’s presidential nomination this week, the first-term Kentucky senator has designs on changing how Republicans go about getting elected to the White House and how they govern once there. Paul will do so with an approach to politics that is often downbeat and usually dour, which just might work in a nation deeply frustrated with Washington. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Sen., Rand Paul, R-Ky. shakes hands with Darryl Miedico during a visit to Dyn, an internet performance company, Friday, March 20, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
FILE - In this March 7, 2013 file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Republican Party’s search for a way back to presidential success in 2016 is drawing a striking array of personalities and policy options. It’s shaping up as a wide-open self-reassessment by the GOP. Some factions are trying to tug the party left or right. Others argue over pragmatism versus defiance. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, and wife Kelley Ashby Paul arrive at the 2014 TIME 100 Gala held at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks at the Maine Republican Convention, Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Bangor, Maine. Paul said the Republican Party must become a bigger coalition that's accepting of diverse ideas to win national elections. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul rubs the head of his 11-year-old son Robert after filling out his ballot in Bowling Green, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2013 file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. The debate about whether to continue the dragnet surveillance of Americans’ phone records is highlighting divisions within the Democratic and Republican parties that could transform the politics of national security. While some leading Democrats have been reluctant to condemn the National Security Agency’s tactics, the GOP has begun to embrace a libertarian shift opposing the spy agency’s broad surveillance powers _ a striking departure from the aggressive national security policies that have defined the Republican Party for generations. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom 15th Annual Spring Kick Off, in Waukee, Iowa, Saturday, April 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Republican Presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks at a rally at the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Thursday, April 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., center, is seen through a window as he speaks to supporters during a reception hosted by Liberty Iowa, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, at the Jasper Winery in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. listens he is introduced to speak by Iowa Republican congressional candidate Rod Blum, left, during a meeting with local Republicans, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Hiawatha, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., visits the Peppermill restaurant Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Las Vegas. Paul is a possible Republican presidential candidate. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul waves as he walks on state to speak at the Americans for Prosperity gathering Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, in Dallas. Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are bashing what they call the president's lack of leadership in response to the violent militant group attacking cities in Iraq. Both are among four top Republicans considering 2016 White House bids addressing the conservative summit in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Paul, 52, has made reaching out to racial minorities a centerpiece of his political brand as he embarks on his 2016 campaign for president. More than a decade has passed since the Republican Party last won a presidential contest, due in part to the GOP's struggle with minority voters, a growing segment of the population that has overwhelmingly favored Democrats in recent years.

The new book, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, comes as Paul plays a starring role in the debate over government surveillance. He spent hours on the Senate floor Thursday protesting the planned extension of the Patriot Act, which includes a provision allowing the National Security Agency to collect bulk records of phone calls made by Americans.

Many Republicans support the surveillance program, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, whose description of Paul as a "wacko bird" is featured prominently on the book's back cover.

In the book, Paul writes that such surveillance programs allowed the government to spy on prominent civil rights leaders in the past, most notably Martin Luther King Jr. He said he raised such concerns during a private meeting with then-Attorney General Eric Holder last February.

"Surveillance was used to try to cripple the civil rights movement. You would think this president above all others would be mindful of the potential for abuse in allowing so much power to gravitate to the NSA," he wrote, referring to President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president. "Holder nodded his understanding but was noncommittal."

He said he later challenged Holder more directly. "How could our first African American president condone pervasive spying on Americans?" Paul asked, to which he said Holder responded, "Let's just say the administration's position on the NSA is not monolithic."

"He left it at that, which only left me with more questions," Paul wrote. "Did the attorney general mean he was against the spying? If so, why was his voice falling on deaf ears?"

Holder, who recently left his position as the nation's top law enforcement officer, did not respond to a request for comment about Paul's description of the meeting.

Paul also criticizes former President George W. Bush for adopting the Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, charging that "because of President Bush's overreach, the Bill of Rights protection of our privacy began to fall apart." He adds that such protections have been further shredded by Obama.

Paul specifically notes that he doesn't "ascribe bad motives to the president," but that such broad surveillance powers have the capacity to corrupt.

"Power needs to be reined in, because we never know when a leader will arise who will use the power to target Jews, or blacks, or evangelical Christians, or the tea party, or any other minority," he wrote.

Paul won praise from black leaders as one of the only members of Congress to visit Ferguson, Missouri, after an unarmed black man was shot to death by police last year. But he was widely criticized for his comments after racial violence erupted more recently in Baltimore, when he said in a television interview he was "glad the train didn't stop" as he passed through the city.

Paul writes at length about his support for criminal justice reform, which includes ending mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders and restoring voting rights to nonviolent felons. He also opposes the use of military weapons by local police departments and supports the creation of economic freedom zones with low tax rates in depressed urban areas.

"Although I was born into the America that experiences and believes in opportunity, my trips to Ferguson and Detroit and Atlanta and Chicago have revealed to me an undercurrent of unease," he wrote. "I want to be part of a united America in which every child, rich or poor, black or white, truly believes that they have a chance at the American Dream."

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