WASHINGTON — Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said Tuesday that illegal immigrants should be allowed to become US taxpayers and ultimately get a chance to become citizens, a significant step for the Tea Party favorite amid growing Republican acceptance of the idea.
''Let's start that conversation by acknowledging we aren't going to deport'' the millions already here, the potential 2016 presidential candidate told the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. ''Prudence, compassion, and thrift all point us toward the same goal: bringing these workers out of the shadows and into becoming and being taxpaying members of society.''
It was the latest sign that the Republican Party is moving to broaden its appeal to politically influential Latinos and other ethnic minorities after significant election losses last fall. Paul spoke a day after a Republican National Committee report called on the GOP to support comprehensive reform, though without specifying whether it should include a pathway to citizenship, which is decried by some conservatives as amnesty.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators is nearing agreement on sweeping legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration policy, an effort that could get a boost from Paul's stance.
''Immigration reform will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution. I am here today to begin that conversation and to be part of the solution,'' Paul said.
The Kentucky Republican said for him to support probationary status for illegal immigrants, a stronger border must come first, and Congress must agree that border security has improved.
The path to citizenship he envisions would come with other conditions, too, that would make it long and difficult for illegal immigrants to travel.
Underscoring the political risks conservative Republicans face in embracing citizenship for illegal immigrants, Paul never used the word ''citizenship'' in his warmly received 17-minute speech, and aides sought to emphasize that his focus is on border security and on getting illegal immigrants into a probationary legal worker status.
But Paul omitted any reference to green cards when he spoke Tuesday morning, and the reference was not included in the text of the speech handed out at the Hispanic Chamber event.
The first chapter in a wild race to fill a congressional seat in South Carolina was written Tuesday when Mark Sanford, a former governor of the state, staged something of a comeback in a Republican field crowded with 16 candidates, and Democrats overwhelmingly picked Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a businesswoman on leave from Clemson University.
Colbert Busch is the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, and a burst of celebrity in a race with other marquee names. Chief among them for the Republicans was Sanford, 52, the former governor who turned the special election into a stage for his political comeback after his fictitious walk along the Appalachian Trail led to a divorce, ethics charges, and censure.
By the time the polls closed in the district, which stretches along the coastal Low Country and includes Charleston, it was clear Sanford had at least some political redemption. With 99 percent of the votes counted, he got 37 percent of them.
But because he did not get more than 50 percent, he will have to stand in a runoff before he can hope to face the Democrat on May 7.
In a close race for second among the Republicans that is likely to spark a recount, Curtis Bostic, a former member of the Charleston County Council, had 13 percent of the vote, while state Senator Larry Grooms had 12 percent.
Teddy Turner, a political newcomer and the son of media mogul Ted Turner, finished fourth, with 8 percent.
Colbert Busch, 58, easily beat Ben Frasier, who has run for office in almost every election cycle since 1972. She won 96 percent of the vote.
Voting was light, and 15 percent of 453,632 registered voters in the newly drawn district went to the polls.
The election was also the first major test of the state's new voter identification law, which requires voters to produce driver's licenses, passports, or other forms of state-approved voter photo ID cards. Because of that, the Justice Department was monitoring the election to ensure compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
WASHINGTON — The future of a planned memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower was thrown into doubt Tuesday as lawmakers questioned the project's design and cost, and Eisenhower's family called again for the memorial project to be redesigned.
A House panel hosted a hearing on the 14-year-old project, which has secured a site for the memorial at the foot of Capitol Hill near the National Air and Space Museum. Planners could lose that space, though, without an extension soon from Congress.
For more than a year, the memorial's design by architect Frank Gehry has been criticized by some for its avant-garde approach to memorial architecture and praised by others for its innovative elements.
Gehry proposed a memorial park for Eisenhower with statues of the president and World War II hero — framed by large, metal tapestries depicting a Kansas landscape from the president's boyhood home.
On Tuesday, Eisenhower's family threw its support behind new legislation in Congress that would scrap the design and block anymore federal funding for the current concept.
About $60 million has been allocated for the $142 million project.
Eisenhower's family has objected to Gehry's design, calling it ''too extravagant'' — in particular the metal tapestries held up by 80-foot-tall columns.
''Continuation of the status quo . . . will doom the prospect of building a memorial,'' said Susan Eisenhower, the president's granddaughter. ''It is time to go back to the drawing board, with an open process for the redesign of the memorial.''