Rand Paul On Civil Rights Controversy: I Shouldn't Have Talked To Rachel Maddow [UPDATED]
See new updates below.
The morning after he declined to endorse the totality of the Civil Rights Act in his much-discussed appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show, Dr. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) copped to feeling regret -- not over his comments, but rather his decision to be interviewed by Maddow in the first place.
"It was a poor political decision and probably won't be happening anytime in the near future," the Tea Party endorsed Senate candidate said on the Laura Ingraham show on Thursday morning. "Because, yeah, they can play things and want to say, 'Oh you believed in beating up people that were trying to sit in restaurants in the 1960s.' And that is such a ridiculous notion and something that no rational person is in favor of. [But] she went on and on about that."
Blaming the messenger is a tactic often used by politicians when the message itself is to blame. And Paul's appearance on the Maddow show on Wednesday night was anything but bland. For 15 minutes, he and the host went back and forth in debating where there should be limits to government efforts to desegregate private institutions (Paul was skeptical that the government should play any role at all). But the notion that the MSNBC host was somehow unloading liberal hostilities on him doesn't jibe with the fact that Paul got the same type of treatment during an NPR interview earlier that morning -- or, for that matter, that a conservative voice on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough, seemed aghast at his answers. "He needs to come up with an answer today, or Kentucky will be Arizona: a battleground for ugly, racial politics," Scarborough said. "He has 24 hours."
(Paul, in fact, chose Maddow's show to initially launch his Senate candidacy a year prior to last night's appearance.)
Paul did seem to draw back (or tighten) his discussion of the Civil Rights Act during his interview with Ingraham.
"These are settled issues in the Civil Rights Act," he said. "I have no intention of bringing up anything related to the Civil Rights Act... I think [segregation] is sort of a stain and blight on our history -- so, no, I have never really favored any change in the Civil Rights Act or any of that. But they have seemed to unleash the loony left on me."
UPDATE I: Rand Paul's campaign has now issued a lengthy statement about his views on the Civil Rights Act. The key quote: "I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person. I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation. Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
"Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws."
"As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years."
"My opponent's statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims."
"The issue of civil rights is one with a tortured history in this country. We have made great strides, but there is still work to be done to ensure the great promise of Liberty is granted to all Americans."
"This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs. Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports. The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product. The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state's rights must stand up to it."
"These attacks prove one thing for certain: the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign."
UPDATE II: TPM highlights another potentially problematic view of Paul's that came up during the same NPR interview during which Paul discussed the Civil Rights Act.
Rand Paul's interview with NPR's All Things Considered last night was the first sign the the freshly-minted Kentucky Republican Senate nominee might have some explaining to do today. The blogosphere is already alight with Paul's interview with Rachel Maddow, but his interview on NPR shows that his libertarian views go deeper than just his take on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Speaking with NPR's Robert Siegel, Paul made the case for less federal involvement in workplace and environmental regulation, including his opposition to some components of the Americans With Disabilities Act. [...]
Here's the interview in a nutshell, from Paul's response to a question about whether or not he thinks the ADA is an example of federal "overreach":
"I think a lot of things could be handled locally," Paul told Siegel. "For example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for people with disabilities and handicaps...I think if you have a two-story office and you hire someone who's handicapped, it might be reasonable to let him have an office on the first floor rather than the government saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to solutions like that, the more local the better, and the more common sense the decisions are, rather than having a federal government make those decisions."