Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the GOP cannot “flip” on social issues like same-sex marriage but should grow to welcome those with different opinions.
“The party can’t become the opposite of what it is,” Paul, a possible 2016 presidential contender, told The New York Times in an interview.
“If you tell people from Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia, ‘You know what, guys, we’ve been wrong, and we’re gonna be the pro-gay-marriage party,’ they’re either gonna stay home or — I mean, many of these people joined the Republican Party because of these social issues,” Paul said. “So I don’t think we can completely flip."
Paul gave the interview for a profile of the libertarian movement associated with the senator and his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
The senator defined libertarianism as being moderate on social issues.
"I think we can ... agree to disagree on a lot of these issues. I think the party will evolve," he said. "It’ll either continue to lose, or it’ll become a bigger place where there’s a mixture of opinions.”
In the past, Paul has said he is in favor of traditional marriage, but says marriage should be a local not federal issue.
Paul also pushed back on those Republicans who define his foreign policy view as isolationist. He said the GOP often tries to involve the U.S. in too many conflicts around the world.
"So, really, libertarianism might be more like foreign-policy realism," he said. "There may be some libertarians who say, ‘By golly, we’re not going anywhere unless they attack us.’ I think I consider myself to be more moderate on the foreign-policy spectrum.”
Paul said he also receives "grief" from the more purist factions of the libertarian movement for not being "as pure as my dad" — specifically on the issue of restricting foreign aid.
"And I’m like: ‘Look, guys, I’m having trouble putting these restrictions on, much less eliminating them! So give me a break!’”