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Rand Paul’s “civil rights” remarks cause ruckus

May 20, 2010

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 unexpectedly became a focus of the midterm elections Thursday as tea-party favorite Rand Paul criticized the federal role in desegregating private businesses, then later said he would have voted for the law.

Rand Paul

Mr. Paul, the Republican Party’s newly elected Senate nominee in Kentucky, has built his campaign around limiting the reach of the federal government. Pressed in two interviews on Wednesday—the first day of his general-election campaign for the Senate—Mr. Paul declined to say that he would have voted as a senator for the landmark civil-rights law.

“I’m opposed to any form of governmental racism or discrimination or segregation,” he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. But he said the question of imposing standards on private businesses was “still a valid discussion.”

“The thing is, is if we want to harbor in on private businesses and their policies, then you have to have the discussion about [whether] you want to abridge the First Amendment as well,” he said.

His comments prompted a day of discomfort for GOP leaders, just before the Senate’s senior Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.), was scheduled to stand with Mr. Paul at a unity rally Saturday in Kentucky.

The statements also underscored the challenge for the national GOP of absorbing insurgent, anti-establishment candidates such as Mr. Paul, who have tapped into the energy of the tea-party movement and other frustrated conservatives.

Mr. McConnell, through a spokesman, declared his own support for the civil-rights law, calling it a “monumental achievement” for the country. “Among Sen. McConnell’s most vivid memories…was watching his boss, Sen. John Sherman Cooper, help pull together the votes to break the filibuster and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Don Stewart, the spokesman.

As his comments gained attention Thursday, Mr. Paul issued a statement saying that he wouldn’t support any efforts to repeal the 1964 civil-rights law. He went a step further in an interview with radio-show host Laura Ingraham, saying he would have voted for the act.

“Segregation, the Jim Crow laws—these things were so abhorrent that I think the South had failed and that the federal government had a role in ending discrimination in all of these practices,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Paul’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act required the integration of schools and other public facilities, and it made employment discrimination illegal, among other provisions.

There were signs Thursday that Republican leaders were moving to bring Mr. Paul’s campaign into the establishment fold.

A Kentucky Republican official said the Paul campaign is expected to bring on Catherine Todd Bailey, a former U.S. ambassador to Latvia and a prominent Kentucky Republican fund-raiser, as the campaign’s finance chairman.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a leading organizer of conservative activists, called the focus on Mr. Paul’s comments an “awkward” moment.

“Growing political movements work through awkward moments of new people acclimating themselves to the Emily Post understanding of how you do politics in America,” said Mr. Norquist.

Kentucky Democrats said Mr. Paul’s libertarian philosophy raised other questions about the role of the federal government they would press him to address.

Jack Conway, the Kentucky attorney general and Mr. Paul’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, said Mr. Paul holds a “narrow, rigid philosophy that government shouldn’t deal with businesses at all.”

In an interview with National Public Radio Wednesday, Mr. Paul had expressed misgivings about the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mr. Conway said his campaign would challenge Mr. Paul on whether the Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and consumer-safety agencies should exist.

“It’s one thing to say you’re in favor of limited government and against big government. Those are phrases that resonate,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who represents Louisville. “But when you bring that into the real world and say how you’re going to apply those, obviously you get into trouble.”

Source: WSJ.

Comments

2 Responses to “Rand Paul’s “civil rights” remarks cause ruckus”

  1. andrea taggart on May 21st, 2010 12:39 am

    well, life has pretty much gone down hill
    since 1968!

    i sincerely favor a revolution.

    and, very much like rand paul’s standards for
    these united states of america.

  2. Edgardus de la Vega on May 23rd, 2010 3:38 pm

    Private businesses possess a cultural right to appeal to their chosen demographic (i.e. our European-American people). Jews specifically cater to their own all the time as just one of many examples.

    Ergo, the mainstream media (MSM) should stop spinning Rand Paul’s stated context. Such spin is nothing more than predictable, worn out simple-mindedness. People are waking up to Constitutional contexts.

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