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DeMint didn't admonish Rand Paul for civil rights comments

On Thursday, the Center for America Progress Action Fund's reported blog ThinkProgress posted a quick video of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) -- approached by blogger Lee Fang -- responding to the Rand Paul Civil Rights Act flap. I linked to it, as did other bloggers, but I don't think any of us noted the discrepancy between the video and the transcript. Here's the video.

Here's the ThinkProgress transcript.

TP: What about the Americans with Disabilities Act? Rand Paul says he wants to abolish that as well.

DEMINT: I’m going to talk to Rand about his positions–

But the dash indicates missing words, and those words are important. Here's what DeMint said:

I'm going to talk to Rand about his positions there before I talk to you.

This is key, because the first version of the quote does not reflect what actually happened.

After the Paul story blew up Thursday morning, DeMint's staff reached out to Paul's staff to ask about it and get the details on his position. Paul put out his statement on the controversy, and DeMint was satisfied. He did not personally talk to Paul yesterday, much less give him a talking-to, as "I'm going to talk to Rand about his positions" suggests. What he meant was that he refused to give ThinkProgress a quote based on its own interpretation of what Paul said.

ThinkProgress in general, and Fang in particular, do great work, but this is a case of a slightly truncated quote leaving a very wrong impression. And it wasn't really necessary. Like other Republicans who endorsed Paul, DeMint is now exposed to that most-annoying line of political questioning -- "do you agree with or condemn this statement by someone you endorsed?" And from a liberal blog or reporter's perspective, the fact DeMint, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), and other Republicans have opted to criticize the media instead of Paul is a story on its own. But the original impression left here -- that DeMint was going to lecture Paul on his policy stances -- was false. (I characterized the video Thursday as a "terse response" from DeMint, so I stand by that but think the way this was reported elsewhere was unfair.)

By David Weigel  |  May 21, 2010; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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