May 21st, 2010
04:41 PM ET
4 years ago

Conway on Rand Paul: 'he's clearly backpedaling'

Washington (CNN) – The Democrat hoping to be Kentucky's next senator apparently smells political opportunity in recent comments from his opponent, Rand Paul.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway spoke about his Republican opponent's views on the Civil Rights Act and the American with Disabilities Act in a Friday interview on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

In an interview earlier this week on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, and other recent interviews with the Louisville Courier Journal and other outlets, Paul suggested that the landmark federal anti-discrimination legislation should not apply to private businesses. Critics have seized on his comments and suggest that Paul would consent to private businesses, such as restaurants, refusing to serve African-Americans and other groups.

In a Thursday interview with Blitzer, Paul said the nation's segregationist past is a "stain on our history," and said he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act had he been in the senate in 1964.

But his opponent said that does not douse the firestorm surrounding Paul.

Conway told Blitzer, "Rand Paul claims to be running as an outsider. But on this issue here in the last 24 hours on your show, he pulled the good old Washington flip-flop."

"...he's clearly backpedaling because he's seen the national firestorm that he has caused," Conway added. "What's clear from what he has said repeatedly, up until your program yesterday, is…he's rejecting a fundamental provision in the Civil Rights Act that says that if - if you're providing a public accommodation, if you're a restaurant or you're a hotel, that you can't discriminate based on race."

Conway is also seizing on Paul's views about the American with Disabilities Act, which bars discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation and other areas.

In the Thursday interview, Paul told Blitzer he was not sure if he would have voted for that act, saying he is in favor of accommodating people with disabilities in the workplace.

But Paul, and eye surgeon and first time political candidate, added, "...let's say you have a local office and you have a two-story office, and one of your workers is handicapped. Should you not be allowed maybe to offer them an office on the first floor? Or should you be forced to put in a $100,000 elevator? I think it sounds like common sense that you should be allowed to give them a first floor office."

Conway told Blitzer, "I mean what's he saying to people with disabilities - that just take your office on the first floor? "If you have colleagues with whom you need to interact upstairs, you, you can't go up there? We don't need to put a ramp or an elevator? What's he saying to the veterans that are coming back from these two wars and are disabled?"

Conway summed up Paul's view on ADA as a "very callous" and said they are "outside of the mainstream."

Conway also weighed in on Paul's Friday comments, on ABC, where he criticized the Obama administration's response to the Gulf oil spill disaster.

In the Good Morning American interview, Paul said, "What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, you know, I put my boot heel on the throat of BP. I think that sounds really un-American and his criticism of business - I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill."

To that, Conway told Blitzer, "You know, talking about what's un-American, BP is a huge international conglomerate. And saying that the administration shouldn't have its boot heel on their throat, BP needs to - to pay for that cleanup."

"In the Senate, we don't need another senator who just stands up for the corporations. I'm interested in standing up for the people of Kentucky. There are people in Kentucky who are scared to death that the government somehow is going to be left with a bailout tab for this Gulf oil spill. And so he's standing up with big business instead of standing up with people who need help," Conway added.

Conway edged out Kentucky Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo in Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary. Paul trounced Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the GOP contest.

–CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby contributed to this report


Filed under: 2010 • Jack Conway • Kentucky • Popular Posts • Rand Paul • The Situation Room
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. dejah_thoris

    Well what do you want from the guy? He's a rookie, he's a Tea Partier, he speaks for Sarah Palin and the GOP (whether he admits it or not) and he's now whining about the attention.

    Don't want the attention to your insane and idiot remarks? Don't run for office.

    May 21, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. gt

    conway has been watching to much msnbc and listening to that crazy keith oberman.. get real.. your toast..

    May 21, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Rescind this guy somewhere but I don't know where because clearly there is something not connecting with Paul.

    May 21, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Rand is getting out of control. I respect his honesty but the extreme right-wing domestic policy views highlight just how radical the Tea Party agenda really is.

    No need to backpedal. The media FINALLY is starting to shed light on what the extreme right agenda is really all about.

    May 21, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    Rand Paul is a kook just like Palin, Bachmann, Foxx (NC), Beck, Limbaugh, etc.

    May 21, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. LacrosseMom (the real one)

    Rand Paul is a racist. Period. The Republican Party has already lost Latinos and the majority of Blacks, Asians, etc. Rand can backpedal ALL he wants, but his WORDS are what he believes! The Tea Party wants to change America backwards into the 40's & 50's.......... I say NO!

    Every looney candidate that the TP supports is another nail on the GOP coffin.

    May 21, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. Tulsa

    Mr. Conway, I wish all the best for you. Shouldn't be too difficult to beat Mr. Paul into the dust come Nov.
    But a word of caution...... We will be watching you too. It's not just the Tea-baggers who are tired of "business as usual" in Washington.

    Protect the Constitution.
    Reduce the deficit.
    Keep the Nation strong.
    Stand up for the people.
    Keep government out of our bedrooms, Churches and Dr. offices.

    Do not think we (Democrats) will vote for you again if you choose to become part of the "old boy's" club.

    May 21, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Rand Paul wants to take back the country to the 1850's. Since it appears to have worked in Virginia and Arizona, so why not Kentucky?

    May 21, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Concerned4Fla

    Full disclosure: I had a positive opinion of Rand Paul as of about three days ago. Admittedly, I knew little about his policies, but I get enraptured by the whole libertarian thing every once in awhile.

    BUT, this guy is either totally out of touch with the pragmatic effects of policies, or he's racist as hell. I really don't think he's a racist. So that leaves a guy who sort of doesn't understand how the world works.

    This is a guy who thinks businesses will regulate themselves (like BP, Lehman Brothers, Enron, WorldPac, Massey Energy...etc.)

    The rest of us understand that a human ought to have close to the same amount of rights as a corporation. Thanks for the idiot Kentucky–now we have one more.

    May 21, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. key

    Its sad that the tea Party doesn't have a really good substantial political agenda just a bunch of talking points. Its much harder to govern.

    May 21, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Chas in Iowa

    Back peddling,.....?
    He stepped back and tripped over his white hooded robe.

    May 21, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Steph

    I'm not really sure how one backpedals after the crap he's said clearly, over and over again on multiple shows.

    Hey Kentucy, vote for Rand if you agree with him on the following issues:

    Disabled workers (especially vets who were injured serving our fine country) should be confined to the first floor. Hey. maybe they can just drag themselves up the stairs to any meetings on floors two and above.

    A private business can deny service to someone based on their race (think of rural areas where there is only one grocery store within a 20 mile radius). Think if the one race they refused service to was your race. We immediately think of whites refusing service to blacks, but what if a black doctor decided who wasn't going to perform surgery on white patients. Hmmm. OR better yet, what if a Muslim owner of a remote gas station refuses to serve Christians, and your car was running on empty at midnight in an area you weren't familiar with. At that point, I doubt you'd care that Rand "says" he wouldn't get gas from that station. Makes ya think, doesn't it?

    Local governments should regulate off shore drilling. You know, what are the chances that a multinational corporation would decide not to put in a remote cut off switch? When the rig blows and thousands and thousands of barrels of oil leak out, it wouldn't affect more than one state, right?

    May 21, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Melinda

    Since Paul is apparently oposed to the 1964 Civial Rights Act as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act, what other progressive legislation does he find fault with? He says that acidents happens in regards to the recent fatal coal mining accident in Ky. He feels the President is being too tough on BP for the oil spill disaster in the Gulf. I'm afraid Rand Paul is the sort of reactionary who would turn back the social clock to the 19th century, if not earlier.

    May 21, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Mike

    The only firestorm is in liberals mindless heads. Do not worry, Kentucky voters will send conway the true message.

    May 21, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. ivnprt

    It's obvious that Rand Paul is going to win the senate seat that he is seeking. He will be a great asset and contributor in the senate as a representative for the great state of Arizona !

    May 21, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. Joe

    Rand Paul can back pedal all he wants. The genie is now out of the bottle and it's clear just how extreme his ideas are. The fact that he is surprised by all the fuss over his ill considered pronouncements says a lot about just how far in over his head he really is. Like Sarah Palin, he will end up being an embarrassment to the Republicans more than anything else.

    May 21, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. Charles

    Conservatives must be brain dead. The Tea party is voting for a guy that does not believe in government, so let me see: if it were up to him, he would: dismantle the Civil Rights legislation, eliminate the "socialist" Medicare (last time I checked it was run by the US government), allow each state to declare their own immigration law, allow each state to follow their own health care policies, it would allow Texans (and a ton of southern states) to teach schoolchildren that God created man and dinosaurs and pre-hominids are a fantasy of pot-smoking Darwin...Doesn't sound like America anymore. Do they really think that things would get better? If we get to that point, I think we should reconsider the Union altogether.

    Really, Tea Baggers, WHAT DO YOU OFFER? what rational discourse are you bringing to the table? The only good thing about Tea Baggers is that they are hurting even more the Republican brand

    May 21, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. Anson

    Ummm ....

    "He will be a great asset and contributor in the senate as a representative for the great state of Arizona !"

    Another mindless teabagger heard from ... sigh ....

    He's running in Kentucky.

    May 21, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. BillE

    Just like the rest of the GOP lie and then when you get caught lie to get out of it. Remember death panels? I haven't seen any yet have you. I like Paul and Palin, a dream come true for the Dems.

    May 21, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. NVa Native

    I'm sure all the crazy talk coming from Paul is the fault of the liberal media.
    When will the right wing-nutts take responsibility for their actions?
    So far – never.

    May 21, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Get Real

    The civil rights issue will not impact Rand Paul's bid for senate. Just look at the demographics in Kentucky. It's made up of 93% white people. It's not a real hot topic issue for the voters there.

    May 21, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. clr

    I agree with Rand Paul, which is surprising as I am not a big fan of his dad. I don't see the big brew-ha-ha here... other than a Democrat behind in the polls trying to win on name calling rather than substance of what HE can do to fix things. If you aren't talking about FIXING things – rather than bashing the other party (regardless of which party you are from) – then you are not a candidate worth considering.

    May 21, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. Ben in Texas

    Rand Paul has the Constitution and 200 years of American history all backwards. He thinks the Constitution was written to ensure the rights of Big Business, not individuals. His idea is for government to keep its hands off Big Business, even when business kills its workers and fouls the environment through negligence.

    When it comes to the individual, Rand wants the government to be right there in the bedroom with you, inspecting your sexual activity. He also wants it there when you consult your doctor, controlling what happens to your own body.

    Rand Paul believes in the supremacy of business over the individual, and that flies in the face of what it means to be truly American.

    May 21, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Pam

    I am really enjoying Rand Paul. He is so funny and such a great gift to the Democrats. And just think, there are still 5 months left to watch this. I bet the Tes Paty wishes they could gag him along with the old Palin "favorites". Isn't that Sarah just the greatest!

    May 21, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    Backpedaling? I don't think he ever moved his opinions anywhere except back in time. He IS exactly what the teabaggers keep saying they are not.
    Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights, USDA, education, President Obama too tough on BP!!
    This guy is a lunatic. He reminds me of the quitter in drag!
    I hope he enjoys this moment even if he didn't get his "honeymoon" after winning by a very few margin of votes.

    May 21, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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