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What do Rand Paul's patrons think of Civil Rights talk?

National Republican strategists have to be aghast at the way Rand Paul, the newly minted Senate candidate from Kentucky, has suddenly burst into the news for appearing to oppose portions of the Civil Rights Act.

This is the worst possible way Paul could have introduced himself to the nation at this particular moment. It comes, of course, at a time when the Tea Partiers are adamantly insisting their movement hasn't been hijacked by intolerants and extremists. It comes as the GOP is trying to shake its image as a regional, culturally-backward party.

As you know, Paul set the blogosphere alight last night after defending his earlier criticism of the Civil Rights Act in a spirited exchange with Rachel Maddow. While he repeatedly denounced racism and discrimination, he seemed to defend the right of private businesses to discriminate, and to disagree with the notion that the Federal government should have a role acting as a check on that right.

The comments have attracted widespread condemnation from precincts not normally associated with the left: Politico, Joe Scarborough, etc.

Paul just put out a statement claiming that he wouldn't support repeal of the Civil Rights Act. But he still hasn't distanced himself from the core suggestion that the Federal government doesn't have a legit role in putting a check on private businesses' right to discriminate.

More broadly, Paul appears to be opposed to other, more general aspects of Federal government oversight of private businesses that are viewed as thoroughly noncontroversial today.

What do Paul's highest profile patrons think of this? Where's Jim DeMint? How about Dick Armey of Freedomworks?

Paul represents one of the Tea Party's most visible triumphs on the national stage. Do Rand's positions on the Civil Rights Act and on the appropriate role of the Federal government vis-a-vis workplace discrimination and regulation accurately represent the Tea Party worldview? It would be nice to hear DeMint and other leaders let us know their thoughts on this. So far, nothing.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 20, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Next: Rand Paul spox: Fed gov't should bar businesses from discriminating


"So far, nothing."

And when the response comes it's probably going to be one hell of a labored mess of a response.

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I hope they chastise you for playing gotcha games and trying to smear Rand.

Posted by: johnyt1977 | May 20, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Very well-done Greg. It's a Rand Paul fest over at TPM. Lame. Thank you for addressing this issue in a smart, analytical and coherent fashion.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 20, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Paul is supporting private property rights not the right to discriminate. The foundation of our country is based on the Constitution and the ability to own property. For too long the Government has been chipping away at our property rights. The recent taking for Economic gain was a severe blow to our rights. Wealth comes from the ability to own and control Private Property. Discrimination has no place in our society and I believe Dr. Rand Stated that and I support his views.

Posted by: waltsails2004 | May 20, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I watched Rachel last night and I undertand how amazed she was by Paul's position on the right of businesses to discriminate if they see fit without Government interference.

And while I agree with the many who see this as an unacceptable view in the 21st Century and while I am normally a HUGE Rachel Maddow fan I was distressed to see her keep pounding this SINGLE point over and over.

I wanted her to a liberterian are you for the repeal of Social Security...see how that sets him up with Kentucky's seniors who want their country back....point out and ask him to elaborate on his view of replacing Medicare with a $2,000 tax would that work out in real a 62 year old I spend over 15,000 a year on health care counting the $10,000 in insurance premiums to United. Can you imagine the reality of the actuarial tables for a 72 year old? An 82 year old?

Alas as someone who grew up in Kentucky and have plenty of cousins who still live there...there is plenty of racism and Paul's Civil right's views will not hurt him nearly as much as taking away Social Security and Medicare. Libertarians are so far out of the main stream that simply pounding on their views of the sanctity of private property and private business only begins to scratch the surface.

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 20, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"The foundation of our country is based on the Constitution and the ability to own property"

Is owning slaves a "property right"? Just asking. In case you need to be reminded, the founders thought so.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 20, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Rand Paul conflicted philosophy is why many people have a difficult time embracing the Libertarian ideology. Libertarians believe governments role is to do nothing and let the people sort their problems out themselves.

Posted by: freeworld23 | May 20, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Further more Rand Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Acts only feeds suspicion of Tea Party racism.

Posted by: freeworld23 | May 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Can we keep this discussion away from the Constitution. That's simple crap!!! The Constitution is a living CHANGING document, not the original one that viewed blacks as 3/5 of a person and women as incapable of voting. Get a life losers and let's talk reality!!!

If you accept that we can tax for our highways or national defense then you've already messed with my PRIVATE PROPERTY. Because of my PRIVATE PROPERTY I have to pay Pinellas County and St. Petersburg a tax on that PRIVATE PROPERTY. Those same two entities are also strictly controlled by the Government's ZONING and planning laws as well as code enforcement.

Think about what you are suggesting you libertarian cretins. I do not wish to live in a community where my neighbor can construct whatever monstrosity he sees fit because of the abscence of zoning..or have rats and trash pile up because of the lack of codes or have sewage run freely down the street because we don't tax and have a sewer system.

Really libertarians would take us back to Elizabethan England. Get real morons!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

There's a simple question, and no one can get Rand Paul to answer it:

"You are in the Senate, and it's the final vote for the Civil Rights Act. Do you vote Yay or No on that bill?"

No wiggle room. If he is a sitting US Senator, there comes at a time when he has to make a decision and vote. There's tons of time to change things and add amendments and whatever, but at the end of the day a Senator has to make the hard call and vote on passage of a bill.

How would he have voted?

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | May 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse


Can you ask for a comment about something from the Paul campaign for me? I have an angle that I think would be really amusing.

I'm curious...there's lots of discussion about diners going back to not serving black patrons. There's talk about not hiring Latinos.

But we're missing 2 very, very key factors here: women and whites.

Does Paul believe that private business should be legally allowed to discriminate against women and whites?

Should it be legal for a black business owner tell his HR departement to not hire any white people as revenge over slavery?

How about a male boss paying his female employees less, or not hiring them at all, because he believe they are inferior?

Given his explinations on the CRA...even if he doesn't think those are good ideas, both those situations should be 100% legal in a Rand Paul world. I'd love to see him go on the record and say so.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | May 20, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"Dr. Paul is supporting private property rights"

This is such a ridiculous argument. Every private business benefits from society as a whole: they accept government currency, use electricity, water, and sewage provided by their local municipalities, more than likely have employees who have been educated in public schools, and the list goes on and on. As a society, in exchange for those benefits, what we ask is that they NOT discriminate against certain segments of the population along with other things such as providing a safe working environment, etc. You think this is too much to ask? Why don't you go try and start a business in Somalia and let us know how that works out?

Posted by: schrodingerscat | May 20, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"...Paul said to Maddow, "nothing I've ever spoken about or have any indication that I'm interested in any legislation concerning." That's actually wrong: Paul isn't likely to get the chance to modify Title IX of the Civil Rights Act anytime soon. But he will have to vote on quite a bit of legislation that uses the commerce clause to regulate private businesses. And that's why this matters.

Paul's defense of himself is that his take on the Civil Rights Act has nothing to do with race and so he is not a racist. But by the same token, the fact that Paul's view on the Civil Rights Act is so dominated by his libertarian ideology that he cannot even admit race and segregation into the calculus is exactly why this is relevant to Paul's candidacy, why it's an issue and why it's among the best evidence we have in understanding how he'll vote on legislation that comes before him. If this isn't about race, then it is about all questions relating to federal regulation of private enterprise. As a senator, Paul will be faced with that question frequently. And his views on it are clearly very, very far from the mainstream."

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 20, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

RUK, if you're still around, check it out:

Lesson from Specter: Lot of growing room for Meek

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 20, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

He also said in an NPR interview that he "opposes" the Americans with Disabilities Act....Rand Paul is just wrong, wrong, wrong for America...

Posted by: StayinCivil | May 20, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

What I really want to know is what Palin thinks about the fact that Paul said that the Americans With Disability Act goes too far.

How does she feel about the fact that the candidate she supports thinks people should be legally allowed to discriminate against her child?

Posted by: schrodingerscat | May 20, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

S's Cat -- has anyone gotten Palin to comment on that particular thing?

and BBQ -- that's a very funny idea. I'll see if they'll bite, tho I doubt it.

Posted by: sargegreg | May 20, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Why wont he simply tell the truth. He said to Rachel.. he abhorred hate speech, yet he defended their right to speak it.
I gather then
That he abhors discrimination, but he believes that PRIVATE business owners should have the right to do it.

If that is his opinion he should state it clearly and then defend it to the voters.

I disagree with him, but the voters have the right to know.

Posted by: jaycee31 | May 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

What's in a name; Rand? as in Ayn Rand?

Clearly Ron Paul set out to take his new born son, and fill his head will all of his own Far Right Wing Rubbish.

He succeeded. Rand Paul is just parroting his father. He does not have a single thought of his own in his head.

Rand Paul; The Teabaggers' Country Club Populist, is in fact; just A Stepford Son.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 20, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse


with all of his.....

Posted by: Liam-still | May 20, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse


with all of his.....

Posted by: Liam-still | May 20, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, Greg. I haven't seen anything but I'd really like to see her try and justify it.

My stomach's way too weak for me to venture to her Facebook page and I was going to suggest you try to get a quote from her, but..... we all remember you're not her favorite journalist. :)

Posted by: schrodingerscat | May 20, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Rand Paul is a highly educated moron. He was able to prevail in the Goober primary. I’d be willing to bet that he won’t win come November. He has become a national lightning rod after his performance with Maddow. His idiotic remarks and ideas will funnel millions of dollars from liberals and Dems - maybe even some GOPers - to his Democratic opponent. He can’t keep his mouth shut and he sure isn’t going to moderate his views. He arrogantly believes that he is absolutely right and is quick to say so. His schtick plays well with the teabagger Goobers, but he seems to offend virtually everyone else.

He will provide some interesting political theater in the coming months, but he won’t be a Senator anytime soon.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 20, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

paul can restate his position any way he want's..apology...explanation..etc

as an african american trying to provide for my family in these times

it's refreshing to hear a pol's true views rather than the lies most of them tell

kentucky will be the new arizona

when the camera's came on..he caught foot in mouth disease

i like it

let us know how you truly feel

and i'll vote or protest...accordingly

that guy just set himself up as a bullseye

and the media is gonna come after him...hard

as they should

Posted by: anthony8881 | May 20, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Still waiting for Michael Steele's embrace of Rand Paul.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 20, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Rand Paul is a libertarian. It will be very interesting to hear his views on other issues. If he sticks to the libertarian positions he'll alienate a large majority of voters, left and right.

Posted by: Tom_Severns | May 20, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Latest from Rand Paul (in short de facto summary):

"I support the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I oppose giving the federal government that much power (& I won't publicly discuss this contradiction)."

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 20, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse


*Pennsylvania Senate: Sestak 46% Toomey 42%*

Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak’s victory over longtime Senator Arlen Specter for his party’s nomination Tuesday has given him a bounce in support in Pennsylvania’s general election for U.S. Senate.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Sestak picking up 46% support over Republican nominee Pat Toomey’s 42%. Only three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate while nine percent (9%) are undecided.

Yeah baby!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 20, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse


Costly, time-consuming test of cement linings in Deepwater Horizon rig was omitted, spokesman says

BP hired a top oilfield service company to test the strength of cement linings on the Deepwater Horizon's well, but sent the firm's workers home 11 hours before the rig exploded April 20 without performing a final check that a top cementing company executive called "the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness" of the well's seal.

A spokesman for the testing firm, Schlumberger, said BP had a Schlumberger team and equipment for sending acoustic testing lines down the well "on standby" from April 18 to April 20. But BP never asked the Schlumberger crew to perform the acoustic test and sent its members back to Louisiana on a regularly scheduled helicopter flight at 11 a.m., Schlumberger spokesman Stephen T. Harris said.

In-sane. Who ARE these people who made the call to send the Schlumberger testing people home???!!! They work at BP and are working for BP as we speak.

I'd like to see them trotted out in front of Congress and the media please.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 20, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse


GOP now making an issue of Sestak's claim that WH offerred him a job to get him not to run against Arlen.

Sestak's campaign shoulda really let this one go. It was not really getting much traction from the right, but now it is, and the RW mouthpiece that is politico is reporting that Steele and the RNC are trying to make a "meme" out of it.

I can see how this would help the Sestak campaign during the primary against Arlen, but how exactly does harping on this help them in the general.

Posted by: lynell33 | May 20, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Republicans sure have a mess on their hands.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 20, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if anyone who watched Rachel last night but after Paul she went to break and then came back with Sestak. She jokingly said to Sestak don't you wish you were running against Rand Paul and in one of those moments where the lips speak before the brain even has time to edit Sestak smiled a broad very genuine smile and said,"Oh yeah" You could tell how much Sestak envied Conley. It was amusing.

@Ethan Thanks for the Meek link. I'm not sure he'll get past the Liberty City scandal. The good news is that it's come out very early in the campaign...perhaps it will fade over time...but here in Florida our politicians are just disgusting us. Alex Sink the Dem Gubernatorial Candidate was on with a morning Shock Jock (Tampa's version of Howard Stern) named Bubba the Love Sponge.
He asked what she thought about McCollum paying the Rentboy guy $120,000 of taxpayer money to testify when the man's testimony had already been discredited in other states. FINALLY Sink said something..and she actually got a front page blub stating the "prim and proper" Sink finally addressed the McCollom scandal.

Meanwhile McCollom is taking on water and sinking a total scumbag. What is it with the R's? Do they not have anybody to put up but freaking crooks like Marco Rubio and Rick Scott?

Scott founded the Columbia Hospital Corporation in 1987. With Columbia HCA Chairman Thomas J. Frist, the brother of Senator Bill Frist, the company merged Columbia with Hospital Corporation of America in 1989 to form Columbia/HCA. Ten years later, Scott was ousted by the company's board of directors in the midst of the nation's biggest health care fraud scandal in which the company ultimately plead guilty to the nation's then largest Medicaid and Medicare fraud and paid a record fine of $1.7 billion dollars

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 20, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

@ waltsails2004: Discrimination has no place in our society and I believe Dr. Rand Stated that and I support his views.

It is also his stated view that the ADA and civil rights acts went too far in regulating private businesses to insure that they treat all people the same way in hiring and providing services.

Well put your laws where your convictions are or just say that you think that there should be no laws keeping people engaging in racism in their businesses.

If you believe that property rights trump the rights of all people to get equal treatment from businesses, then there is no reasoning with you.

Posted by: srw3 | May 20, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

lynell33 - What evidence have you seen that Sestak's campaign is "harping on this" or hasn't let it go? I heard Sestak interviewed on NPR yesterday and he was specifically asked about that claim, and he basically brushed it off. Didn't deny it, but smoothly moved on to more positive matters.

Sure, the GOP will try to use it, like both parties always try to use material from the opposing party's contested primary, but it rarely works. And this is even less likely to work, since it's the kind of inside-baseball that has some resonance with primary voters, but none with general-election voters.

Posted by: jimeh | May 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: bettyleeking | May 21, 2010 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Umm, Paul specifically said he is NOT against the Civil Rights Act. He has made clear in previous interviews that he views this issue as settled law and that he has no interest in changing it.

Posted by: michaeltgriffith | May 21, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"Paul just put out a statement claiming that he wouldn't support repeal of the Civil Rights Act." [WA Post, Sergant]

I was not aware that anyone besides Rand Paul, was considering repeal of the civil rights laws in this country.

Also, the article neglected to mention Rand Paul's letter to the Louisville Courrier news paper denouncing equality for all races, and calls to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 1965 Voting Rights Act, and 1967 Fair Housing Act.

This article also fails to mention Rand Paul's support for repealing the American With Disabilities Act.

Why hasn't and the Democrats started Ads on this?

Posted by: Gone_Rogue | May 21, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Quit calling it the "Tea Party," and call it what it really is: THE BIGOT PARTY !

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | May 21, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Fact check: The more than 20% increase in the minimum wage signed into law by President Obama and passed by the Democratic Congress has caused a jump of 2 percentage points in the rate of unemployment that can be achieved in a "full employment" economy -- raising it to 7% from the 5% under Presidents Bush and Clinton. (Please see citation in, e.g.,, finding that for every 10% rise in the minimum wage there will be a 1 percentage point increase in the lowest possible unemployment rate that can be achieved while keeping inflation under control.)

The increased minimum wage is most harmful to those populations that can least afford the loss of jobs. Over the past five years, unemployment rates have risen from 15% to 25% for teens, 9% to 16% for African-Americans, 6% to 12% for Latinos, and 7% to 15% for those lacking a high school diploma. (Please see

Posted by: tomfwalton | May 21, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Paul is in for a rough time. If private businesses can decide who they can serve, they can also decide who they can hire- or not. Age, sex, racial discrimination in hiring is just fine according to Rand.

Access for those with disabilities? Not required. Want to fire pregnant woman? Not a problem. Unsafe working conditions? Your estate can sue. Only employees who are healthy and have healthy dependents need apply. Saves money on health insurance.

I suspect Dr. Paul will not appear on MTP and will appear exclusively on Fox News for the rest of the campaign.

Posted by: gmlerner | May 21, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Tomwalton points to a CBO study that suggests a reason for the current high unemployment is the raise in the minimum wage. Setting aside the obvious impact of the recession on employment, the CBO report says nothing of the kind, "One study estimates that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage (relative to an economywide average) raises the natural rate of unemployment by about half a percentage point. That finding implies that reductions in the relative minimum wage may have lowered the natural rate by more than a percentage point between the late 1970s and the late 1980s. Other research, however, suggests that the impact of the minimum wage on employment is slight, in part because only a small fraction of the labor force is affected by changes to the minimum wage. In late 2001, about 1 percent of private-sector workers earned the minimum wage ($5.15 per hour), and another 6 percent earned between $5.15 and $6.65 per hour."

The CBO said no such thing- one study suggested a linkage.

Posted by: gmlerner | May 21, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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