Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Friday traveled to Ferguson, Mo., to meet with black leaders, including representatives from the NAACP, his office confirmed to The Daily Caller.
It’s a risky move for the potential presidential candidate: While his visit bolsters the argument that he is the type of Republican who can appeal to black voters, he also runs the risk of alienating conservatives who think liberals are demagoguing the events in Ferguson for political purposes. (RELATED: Rand Paul: Time To ‘Destroy ISIS Militarily’)
Over the summer, the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American, by a white police officer in Ferguson set off weeks of rioting, looting and protests that are still going on today. (RELATED: Sunday Night Brings More Looting And Destruction To Ferguson; National Guard On Its Way)
According to Paul’s office, the senator met with people associated with the NAACP, the Urban League and business and church leaders for “a listening session.”
Paul is the first possible presidential candidate to make a trip to Ferguson.
“I came to Ferguson today to listen to leaders in the community and to learn more about how we can fix the problems of criminal injustice together,” Paul said in a statement.
John Gaskin III, a spokesman for St. Louis County NAACP, said after the meeting: “Senator Paul’s decision to meet with the St. Louis county NAACP and local leadership in Ferguson speaks volumes about the NAACP’s strength and influence in the civil rights community.” (RELATED: Rand Paul: Obama Foolishly Letting ‘Political Correctness’ Influence Ebola Decisions)
Paul aide Doug Stafford said of the visit: “Given the over-militarization of our law enforcement and the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for minority communities not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them. Senator Paul will continue to work to fix the broken system and in the meantime, let us continue to pray for the people of Ferguson, citizens, police and officials alike.”