Paul defends visit to Howard
April 17th, 2013
12:39 PM ET
1 year ago

Paul defends visit to Howard

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky acknowledged he made some mistakes during his speech at the historically black Howard University last week but largely defended his appearance, the first by a major Republican in nearly two decades.

At a Washington breakfast with reporters Wednesday, Paul said he was unfairly criticized by what he described as left-wing media, who argued the senator wrongly portrayed the history of African Americans switching to the Democratic Party.

In his speech last week, Paul said the transition happened during the Great Depression in the 1930s, arguing that African Americans left the GOP because they were struggling financially and weren't getting the "economic emancipation" they wanted from Republicans.

Paul visited the university in an attempt to change what he described as inaccurate perceptions of the GOP being racist.

"There's a perception that Republicans don't like people of color. They don't like black people, brown people or people of different colored skin. It's not true, but that's the perception we have to overcome. And the only way to overcome that is by showing up and saying over and over again it is not true," he said Wednesday at the breakfast, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

His visit to the university came weeks after the GOP rolled out its plan to better connect with minority voters, including African Americans. The Republican National Committee will spend $10 million on staff members to communicate conservative principles in cities across the country, one of the many decisions it made following the party's major loss among minority voters in the presidential election.

Critics, however, blasted Paul last week for not talking about the so-called Southern Strategy, a tactic used by the GOP in the 60s and 70s to win over longtime Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights movement.

Paul argued Wednesday the Southern Strategy "cemented" the demographic change that had already taken place among African Americans. He also didn't bring it up, he said, because he didn't go to Howard to mention "the things that don't make us look so good in the Republican Party."

While the first-term senator considered his reception at the speech "very good," he got many negative reviews from students at the event.

"It wasn't an easy audience, but it was the beginning of a conversation," he said at the breakfast.
One student, however, praised Paul just for simply showing up.

"I think Rand Paul won everyone in the room over when he made the announcement that he was going to come and speak to Howard University students because we know throughout the years, the Republican Party has blatantly ignored and disrespected the African American community," Julian K. Lewis, a senior, told CNN's Jake Tapper. Lewis, though, acknowledged he largely disagreed with Paul's viewpoints.

Critics also hit Paul for fumbling to recall the name of former Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, the first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote.

"Well I'm human. I forgot his name. I knew his name, but I forgot it. It wasn't like it was part of my speech and I forgot it," he said. "It was in an answer."

And he was criticized for asking the audience if they were aware the founders of the NAACP were Republicans. They audience loudly responded "yes."
Paul said Wednesday he was unfairly mocked for being presumptuous and argued the public at large probably doesn't know that part of history, which is why he was asking last week.

"In retrospect it sounds like it is a dumb question, but Republicans haven't been going to Howard for 20 years, and by going there, I did learn something-I learned that everyone there knows," he said.
Paul said he'll continue to make such outreach visits and pointed to his visit to the historically black Simmons College last week in Kentucky.

I'll keep trying. I don't give up easily," he said. "I'll keep trying."


Filed under: Rand Paul
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. PaulCat

    Come on Paul!
    You thought you were going to talk to a group of stupid African Americans, but it back-fired. No need to blame the left-wing media for your stupidity.

    April 17, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. just askin

    if the democrats have helped the blacks so much in this country, why are so many of them still poor, uneducated, on government assistance and living in run down government housing projects being terrorized on a daily basis by armed black drug gangs? and yet they vote for democrats over and over expecting the same insanity to yield different results. wake up before yet another generation is lost.

    April 17, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Name lynn

    Rand paul it took you this long to say you made mistakes about the black people or color people, well rand you be ok because you have lost the black people votes anyway as well as the color people votes.

    April 17, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Homer Simpson

    Just sayin/askin, please explain to us what the repubs have to offer, i have heard how much they want you to believe they are for them, tell us what ideaology you/gop hold that would benefit them... expecting crickets

    April 17, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. chilly g

    im a black american and my wife went to howard and my comments is that ran paul and huntman is the only republicans that are main stream that could gey a lot of black support. if senator paul continue to go to theses
    college and make speaches it will have some impact because this guy is main stream and is willing to
    listen and be reasonable but a democraft will win the next presidential election.

    April 17, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. lolo

    @just sayin, if anyone is trying to rewrite history it is definitely the GOP. They want to turn back the hands of time so bad. This is not white America only anymore. Just give it up or move to the moon with Newtie. The GOP wants to erase all of their nasty evil ways. We know Lincoln was republican and freed the slaves, but as time has gone on, the GOP has shown their true racist feelings not only for black people but for all of America that do not look like them. You know it as I know it. The GOP is living in a bubble thinking that everyone else is not worthy, they forget that whites have bad apples in their culture too. Can't wait until they show that the Boston bomb was detonated by a white person who is mad at the government over their rights. The constitution states life, liberty and justice for all Americans, not just white America. If you were not to lazy to do your own farming, raising your kids, cleaning house you pobably would have kept America white, but you had to use and abuse the native americans, black africans, hispanics, and any other group of people who did not look like you to do your work for you. Now that is history unchanged. As long as the GOP can use and abuse for themselves they go along with it, as soon as you mix up the pot with other races they lose their minds and start crying foul. Just hypocrits.

    April 17, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Peoples State of Illinois

    @Name lynn

    Rand paul it took you this long to say you made mistakes about the black people or color people, well rand you be ok because you have lost the black people votes anyway as well as the color people votes.
    ---------------------
    Yep, because black people keep voting against their best interests by continuing to vote for there modern democratic slave masters.

    April 17, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. sonny chapman

    That 1968 Nixon "Southern Strategy" & the 1948 "DixieCrat" movement led by Strom Thurmond just doesn't want to disappear.

    April 17, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. JeffersonLives

    I am a Conservative Republican, so let me dispel the myths

    I am NOT racist
    I am NOT sexist, in fact I love women
    I am NOT anti-gay, I believe in marriage equality and freedom of association
    I am NOT intolerant
    And I 100 percent defend every one of our Bill of Rights..not just those that suit my agenda or cause

    April 17, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Steve, New York City

    I would credit Rand Paul for at least reaching out, compared to some other members of his party who shout "You Lie," refer to the president as a "Tar Baby," say crazy things about rape, and generally act in a bigoted, bluntly stupid manner. Good for Senator Paul.

    If only Senator Paul would listen to the American people on background checks, rather than taking orders from his favorite lobbyists. . . .but if some creep lobbyists weren't there to ruin it for eveyone else, then it wouldn't be Washington.

    April 17, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. just askin

    Homer Simpson
    Just sayin/askin, please explain to us what the repubs have to offer, i have heard how much they want you to believe they are for them, tell us what ideaology you/gop hold that would benefit them... expecting crickets
    ------
    a real education from schools that actually teach kids how to read, write and do math. not the failed union school systems we have now that churn out failures, kids that can't read or write their name.

    self reliance and hard work to achieve anything you want and are willing to work hard enough to get.

    bottom line it really doesn't matter what "we offer" as much as it matters how much the individual truly wants to achieve through their own hard work. we offer a hand up, not a hand out, as the democrats do.

    many hispanics know this well and make great improvements in their lives. it is high time for the blacks in this country to get the message as well. 50 years of democrat party enslavement has gotten you no where.

    April 17, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Wake up People!

    I noticed he didn't tell them his views on the Civil Rights movement. And to answer the question by just askin....

    The reason so many blacks are impoverished is, blacks don't always get a fair chance. We are paid significantly lower wages, typically minimum wage. Advancement, forget about it, unless you are one of the lucky ones. Blacks receive felonies for the exact same crimes that whites get misdemeanors, and it's sometimes hard to get a good job if you have a felony, unless you're white and then good old nepotism works. Also blacks HAVE to be significantly smarter than their non black counterparts. It's not enough that we are as good, we must be better. Case in point, President Barack Obama graduate of Harvard Law, yet his intelligence is questioned by people that can't spell nor do they know anything about punctuation. He gets questioned by the likes of Sarah Palin, who probably couldn't graduate clown college.

    April 17, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. ladeeda

    The problem with really d#mb people who "think" they are smart, is that they offend others when they assume that really basic well known information is "high brow" stuff. When they do this, like Rand Paul did, it exposes not only how really "d#mb" they are – and how limited their education is, but it offends the actual smart educated people they are speaking to when they assume the smart educated people would not know something so basic. This was RP's offence.

    April 17, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Fair is Fair

    @ Wake up People -

    By all means, keep voting for the party who tells you they're out to help you. Word of warning to you, though... they TELL you they're out to help you for only one reason – your vote. Meanwhile, very little has been done to actually help. They believe that the scraps they throw your way will buy your loyalty... but that won't last forever. Ask yourself – how much has improved after nearly 50 years of "Great Society" programs? VERY little, especially considering the trillions – yes, TRILLIONS – of dollars spent on them. It's very sad.

    April 17, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. PJ

    @Just askin's answer to Homer Simpson:
    -–
    "...a good education....." but you have to buy your own books, because we want to destroy the Department of
    Education.
    "it doesn't matter what we offer........." "we offer a hand up" (whatever that means)
    "hispanics know this well"
    Wow.
    In other words, you offer nothing of substance. More like: You are on your own, and don't come crying to me
    if you need help. Obviously you don't believe in "pay it forward". I mean, why should you, nobody helped
    you. Right?

    April 17, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. just askin

    Wake up People!
    The reason so many blacks are impoverished is, blacks don't always get a fair chance.
    --
    maybe so, but many others have shown that this can be overcome in this country if you do not use it as an excuse for failure, but as a motivater and a driver. btw, others also do not get a fair chance as well. life is not guaranteed to be fair. it should be the first thing taught to a child.

    We are paid significantly lower wages, typically minimum wage. Advancement, forget about it, unless you are one of the lucky ones.
    --
    largely due to skill set and lack of education. again, you need to stop focusing on others, the lucky ones. there will always be those people and there is nothing to do abou that. you need to make our own luck with hard work and drive.

    Blacks receive felonies for the exact same crimes that whites get misdemeanors, and it's sometimes hard to get a good job if you have a felony,
    -–
    criminal records are definitely can be a life and career killer. kids need to be brought in at a very young age and have it drilled into them that education is the key to success, not crime. this country needs to stop glorifying criminals too.

    unless you're white and then good old nepotism works.
    --
    yeah well, you can't blame people for wantin gto help their families. you'd do the same thing if you could. truth is that hiring family members is almost always a formula for disaster.

    Also blacks HAVE to be significantly smarter than their non black counterparts. It's not enough that we are as good, we must be better. Case in point, President Barack Obama graduate of Harvard Law, yet his intelligence is questioned by people that can't spell nor do they know anything about punctuation. He gets questioned by the likes of Sarah Palin, who probably couldn't graduate clown college.
    --
    i would put this a different way. blacks need to over come the stereotype they have been saddled with. employers don't expect you to work harder or be smarter, but they do expect that you work, be smart and not expect different treatment because of your skin color. contrary to popular belief, all employers really want is somebody that shows up everyday and does a good job to help the business whethe rthey are black, white, brown or purple.

    April 17, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Wake up People!

    Fair is Fair.

    I will vote for the party that shows myself and people that look like myself respect. Not the party of bigots that the GOP has become. I would rather blow my own brains out than ever vote republican. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

    April 17, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    just askin

    Homer Simpson
    Just sayin/askin, please explain to us what the repubs have to offer, i have heard how much they want you to believe they are for them, tell us what ideaology you/gop hold that would benefit them... expecting crickets
    --
    a real education from schools that actually teach kids how to read, write and do math. not the failed union school systems we have now that churn out failures, kids that can't read or write their name.

    self reliance and hard work to achieve anything you want and are willing to work hard enough to get.

    bottom line it really doesn't matter what "we offer" as much as it matters how much the individual truly wants to achieve through their own hard work. we offer a hand up, not a hand out, as the democrats do.

    many hispanics know this well and make great improvements in their lives. it is high time for the blacks in this country to get the message as well. 50 years of democrat party enslavement has gotten you no where.
    *******************
    100 years of being wedded to the GOP got them nowhere, except a kick in the gut then the GOP embraced the Dixiecrats and welsomed them into the party. As far as unions being responsible for a bad education system, it starts and ends at home: kids who are not encouraged to read by their parents, who are not taught to be curious and ask questions do not suceed in schools. Its too easy to blame teachers, but, the easy way out is the GOP mantra. As far as hard work is concerned, if the jobs are not there, there are few options other than a string of low-paying jobs with no benefits and little or no time to parent.What has the GOP done to promote economic growth in monority communities? Nothing. If anything, they kept discriminatory lending policies in place that prevented potential entrepreneurs in the minority communities from getting the seed money they need. Patronising attitudes are what the GOP has given them, not a hand up. Most of the time the GOP would not even make eye contact, much less extend a hand.

    April 17, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Bessy

    He knew what he was doing and saying, and as always when these Republicans are caught, they say they made a " mistake ". This man in politics is a huge mistake.

    April 17, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. vikingwoman

    Funny, Rand Paul trying to teach Black History to Black people! A person can say they're not a racist, over & over again, but that isn't enough! It takes action & when words & action don't match, then there is a problem! The same problem the GOT-Party has had for many years & will continue to have unless they change their actions!!

    April 17, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    @ Wake up People -

    By all means, keep voting for the party who tells you they're out to help you. Word of warning to you, though... they TELL you they're out to help you for only one reason – your vote. Meanwhile, very little has been done to actually help. They believe that the scraps they throw your way will buy your loyalty... but that won't last forever. Ask yourself – how much has improved after nearly 50 years of "Great Society" programs? VERY little, especially considering the trillions – yes, TRILLIONS – of dollars spent on them. It's very sad.
    *******************
    What does the GOP offer except for Horatio Alger stories? Nothing. A century of benign neglect is what the GOP gave Blacks in this country, whcih is why they moved over to the democrats in droves. At least the Democrats did something other than stereotype every black person as either lazy, a gangbanger, an affirmative action case, or all of them. No policy for minorities from the GOP other than neglect until THEY need their votes: 2012 should have taught them that.

    April 17, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Wake up People!

    Fair is Fair.

    I will vote for the party that shows myself and people that look like myself respect. Not the party of bigots that the GOP has become. I would rather blow my own brains out than ever vote republican. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
    -------
    Well, that's certainly your perogative. A pretty smart guy once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result".

    April 17, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. MTATL67

    'He said, because he didn't go to Howard to mention "the things that don't make us look so good in the Republican Party." Just another publicity stunt like the GOP's outreach that flopped.

    April 17, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. sonny chapman

    It takes Courage to go before a hostile crowd & speak Truth. It ain't so hard to go before the same crowd & try to blow smoke when you REALLY want to be President or Attention.

    April 17, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. Lisa P.

    ladeeda

    The problem with really d#mb people who "think" they are smart, is that they offend others when they assume that really basic well known information is "high brow" stuff. When they do this, like Rand Paul did, it exposes not only how really "d#mb" they are – and how limited their education is, but it offends the actual smart educated people they are speaking to when they assume the smart educated people would not know something so basic. This was RP's offence.
    April 17, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm
    -----------------------------

    Rand Paul assuming that African American students at an elite historic Black university wouldn't know the history of enslavement, emancipation, Jim Crow and Civil Rights very very thoroughly is like Peoples State of Illinois repeatedly asserting that Black people somehow can't figure out their own best interests and vote it accordingly. It's worse than insulting; it's patronizing, and it treats people whose ancestors were traded around like brainless things as if they still have no right to expect better. If Rand Paul had any sense or sense of respect he would have asked the Howard University students for a history lesson instead of pretending to deliver one.

    April 17, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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