Rand Paul explains himself, NRSC attacks Robert Byrd
Bowing to the reality that this has become an ugly national story, Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul released a lengthy statement on his views about the Civil Rights Act. (He was performing surgery earlier today, unreachable by reporters.)
"As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed," says Paul. "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."
I can't decide whether Paul has benefited or been hurt by the change of focus from the original story -- whether his opposition to basically any federal intervention in business practices meant he opposed the Americans With Disabilities Act, opposed FDA regulation of food, etc. Instead, this has become a fairly tired "is candidate a racist or isn't he?" story -- one that Paul thinks he can deflect.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, apparently in agreement, appends the Paul statement to one from committee communications director Brian Walsh, who attacks (not by name) Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.):
As a side note, I would point out the irony – which seems to have been lost in some of the news coverage -- that the same party seeking to manufacture this issue today, is in fact the same political party which led the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In fact, the sitting President pro tempore of the Senate, elected to this leadership position by his current fellow Senate Democrats, was one of the leaders of this filibuster.
"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."
May 20, 2010; 12:09 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Election
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