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."
2016 prospect Rand Paul in new book: GOP willing to change
DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 1: Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) speaks during a caucus day rally at his Des Moines headquarters on February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Presidential hopeful was accompanied by his wife, Kelly, mother, Carol Wells and his father, former Congressman Ron Paul. Pauls were there to thank all the staff and volunteers for all their hard work in Iowa. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: U.S. President Donald Trump, right, acknowledges US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), left, prior to signing H.J. Res. 38, disapproving the rule submitted by the US Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Department of Interior's Stream Protection Rule, which was signed during the final month of the Obama administration, 'addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites,' according to the Congress.gov summary of the resolution. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and other members of the House Freedom Caucus hold a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arrives for a classified briefing on the airstrikes launched against the Syrian military, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Rand Paul speaks at a campaign rally in the Olmsted Center at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank/File Photo
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and wife, Kelly, arrive on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul talks to supporters at a campaign stop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to the media about repealing Obamacare after playing golf with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Governor Chris Christie, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, former Governor Jeb Bush and Governor John Kasich pose together onstage at the start of the debate held by Fox News for the top 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Rand Paul speaks at the New Hampshire GOP's FITN Presidential town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul takes a photo with Scott Blum of Monroe, Iowa, after speaking at a campaign stop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (C) speaks about Obamacare repeal and replacement while flanked by members of the House Freedom Caucus, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is currently working on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) fires an AR-15 rifle at CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 16: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., attends a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Dirksen Building featuring testimony by David Friedman, nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel, February 16, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Rand Paul and Kelley Paul attend the Capitol File 58th Presidential Inauguration Reception at Fiola Mare on January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capitol File Magazine)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 15: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during the House Freedom Caucus news conference on Affordable Care Act replacement legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Behind Sen. Paul from left are Rep. Tom, Garrett, R-Va., Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: Kelley Paul and her husband, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, at the National Gallery of Art on September 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 6: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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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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