Kentuckian explains Paul's popularity at CPAC as senator wins 2016 straw poll

03/16/2013 02:31 PM

UPDATED — The Conservative Political Action Conference has provided a big stage for the next wave of GOP leaders like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, according to one young Kentucky Republican.

Western Kentucky University junior Dalton Workman talked with Pure Politics Friday about Paul’s popularity — a day before Paul won the 2016 GOP presidential straw poll at CPAC.

But the direction of the party is only the start of the debate. Workman said the party still has to sort out its positions to broaden its appeal and stay true to conservative principles, particularly after Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s comments to CNN this week that he now supports gay marriage.

Workman has become active in the Republican Party already, running a state legislative race last year in Bowling Green. And he paid his own way to National Harbor, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C., for his first CPAC.

And he says he sees a new vision to rebuild the Republican party will come as a result of the 2013 conference.

“I think that the whole idea of CPAC is to energize these people, not only for the next four years but also like Senator McConnell talked about looking at ways we can win back the Senate and keep our majority in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Workman said (at 3:35 in the interview).

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell spoke at the conference about the bright future he sees for the Republican Party behind younger leaders like Paul.

While Workman said the divide between the old and new is clear at the conference, McConnell was well received by the audience. But Paul is one of the most popular at the conference, Workman added.

CPAC is a lot of young people and a lot of young people believe the same thing that Senator Paul that the party has gotten too out of control, moss covered in some instances as he explained yesterday, and I think that’s a new thing we are starting to see post election,” Workman said (at 1:50 in the interview).

Meanwhile, Portman, the first-term Ohio Senator, was also the talk of the conference on Friday. His son is gay, and he said he could no longer justify his opposition to same-sex marriage.

When asked, Workman said that while Portman’s decision is personal, the Republican party may need to start looking at different stances on that issues.

“Polls have come out recently saying that more people are looking towards same sex marriage as being okay, I tend to disagree, but I think it’s a time issue and we are seeing how it evolves,” (at 6:45).

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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