Rand Paul: Obama used Newtown families as 'props'
April 17th, 2013
11:01 AM ET
5 years ago

Rand Paul: Obama used Newtown families as 'props'

Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky argued Wednesday morning President Obama is using the families of victims from the Newtown elementary school shooting for political purposes and compared them to "props" in the ongoing gun control debate.

His comments later elicited a fiery response from Obama after the Senate voted down a proposal to expand background checks on firearm purchases.

Talking about the gun control legislation at a Washington breakfast with reporters, Paul said the issue is a legitimate subject to debate but said it was unfortunate that families who have suffered from gun violence are being drawn into the political scene on Capitol Hill.

"In some cases, I think the president has used them as props," he said.

A number of Newtown families traveled to Washington in recent weeks to lobby senators as the upper chamber considered tougher gun laws.

One of the main amendments of a gun package, however, failed to gain enough support in the vote Wednesday after nearly all Republicans and four Democrats opposed the legislation, saying it doesn't address the problem of gun violence.

(Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also voted no at the last minute for procedural reasons, allowing him to bring the amendment back up at a later date.)

"I've seen the fathers and mothers testifying," Paul said, adding he's aware they came voluntarily and wanted to be part of the debate. "It still saddens me just to see them."

Pressed later during the breakfast about his comment referring to "props," Paul said he wants people to know that he cares about those families.

"I'm someone who's presenting a face to the public. The face I want to present is that I do care about those kids and I understand the grief that (the families) are going through," he said. "Politics isn't only about facts. It is about whether you're seen as being empathetic and I do want people to know that I do care about those families and I care about their grief.

Following Wednesday's vote, Obama appeared in the Rose Garden with Newtown families and angrily chided those who opposed the measure. And in a somewhat veiled swipe, the president addressed Paul's comment.

"I've heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced–a 'prop,' somebody called it," he said. "Are they serious? Do they really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?"

"So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day in Washington," he added.

Paul was one of the Republican senators who conducted a filibuster of the bill, preventing it from moving forward last week. However, their filibuster was overcome when the Senate obtained the 60 votes it needed to proceed with the legislation.

The senator said he didn't consider the background check proposal, which expands the system to cover private sales at gun shows and online, as a solution to gun violence, arguing those who commit mass shootings are going to do so no matter what.

Instead, he favors strengthening the current background check system and allowing teachers to keep guns in the classroom as a way to protect students.

The current actions on the Hill, he argued, are akin to "window dressing."

"It's a dog and pony show, it's a parade, it's theatrics," he said, adding some lawmakers just want to be able to say they "did something" on gun violence, even if it's not effective in the end.

Also at the breakfast with reporters, Paul confirmed he was considering a presidential bid and outlined further plans for his travel to early primary states this year.

"We're considering it, but we won't make a decision before 2014," he said at the breakfast, sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Paul is scheduled to travel to the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire next month, but he said he's also adding South Carolina to his itinerary this summer.

"Whether I run or not, I would consider it as something that allows me to have a larger microphone," he said.

Filed under: Gun control • Rand Paul
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Peoples State of Illinois

    Of course Obama did. His is the "never let a horrendous disaster go to waste," philosophy.

    April 17, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    "I've seen the fathers and mothers testifying," Paul said, adding he's aware they came voluntarily and want to be part of the debate. "It still saddens me just to see them."
    You claim the President is using the families as "props" then turn around in the next sentence and say "they came voluntarily and want to be part of the debate?" Please shut up. You went to Howard and made a fool out of yourself and now you make this ridiculous statement.

    April 17, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. ja

    Obama is president of the United States of America, it would serve America better if the congress would tighten gun laws, people like Rand Paul is in the bought by the nra, shameful, and at the bottom of the ocean with whale manure, if you wnat high capacity waepon join swat, or law enforcement, or the armed forces

    April 17, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Boo

    Yeah....like George W. Bush used the World Trade Center and 9/11 to declare war on Iraq. To Rand Paul I say.....POT MEET KETTLE.

    April 17, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. ak_steve

    Rand Paul wants to talk about political theaterism after his 12-hour filibuster stunt? What a hypocrite.

    April 17, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. Warren

    And what is he doing??

    April 17, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Winky

    Paul did u say the same about Bush when he used 9/11 victims ,firemen,Americans etc. to go to war! No! Well then shut the hell up! These people were not made to do this they volunteered! What is wrong with background checks?

    April 17, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. Sniffit

    That's accusation amounts to nothing more than a giant insult to the Newtown families who WANTED to make their feelings and positions known and WANTED to speak out about this issue and how it has effected theri lives. Calling . responsible, well-meaning mothers and fathers who suffered a tragedy "props" simply because they CHOSE to speak out and did so with a position that you disagree with is insulting, disgusting and shows a complete and utter lack respect for those individuals.

    Besides, the NRA used some father from Newtown who supported their position about assault weapons bans, but oh yeah....IOKIYAR....pretty much the same thing here.

    April 17, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. Homer Simpson

    Look everyone, i care, and iim not politicising this to my advantage, i just really care,, believe me yet? very shameful, yet shameless man

    April 17, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Wake up People!

    Anyone that thinks this lightweight is fit to be POTUS, is delusional. Rand, those people lost the most special things in the world to them, is it that much of a stretch for you to use that backwoods mentality and think maybe, just maybe, they wanted their voices heard??? How about you using a filibuster to get recognition?

    I guess ole Rand doesn't remember MISSION ACCOMPLISHED....
    Stupid neck.

    April 17, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Anthonu

    Paul is another toy bought by the NRA

    April 17, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. rs

    Only an utter fool proposes such nonsesne! No one "held a gun to their heads" (like the NRA does to Mr. Paul). These people spoke from their hearts about their loss, and how their lives have been changed. Just more delusional GOP/Right-wing silliness here. Nothing more.

    Mr. Paul- you owe the American people and the parents of the Newtown tragedy an apology for such an outrageous remark!

    April 17, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. HenryMiller

    Those intent on attacking and destroying the Second Amendment will stop at nothing to achieve their objective. They just don't trust Americans–as far as they're concerned, we're all irresponsible kids; those of us who own guns are all murderous irresponsible kids, regardless of the fact that 99.9999 percent of gun owners have never even come close to hurting anyone with their guns.

    April 17, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  14. HenryMiller

    @ja: "Obama is president of the United States of America."

    No, Obama is president only of those who voted for him–he doesn't give a damn about anyone else.

    April 17, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. Malory Archer

    "I've seen the fathers and mothers testifying," Paul said, adding he's aware they came voluntarily and want to be part of the debate. "It still saddens me just to see them."


    In other words, they offend your delicate sensibilities, and therefore you want them to just go away quietly.

    April 17, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Dallas

    Just shut up Rand. I don't remember you going after Bush when he used the victims of 9/11 and the first responders, etc. as "props". You just want to start some mischief. You aren't even worthy to be in the same room as President Obama and I assure you America will never allow you and your tired dogmatic philosophy ever become POTUS. Go away!

    April 17, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. anotherGDlefty

    Dear Mr. Paul, Mr. Obama is the president, like it or not.
    The Newtown families are citizens of this country that the president serves.
    What ever happened to thinking before you speak.
    Put yourself in their shoes for one day...would you do whatever you could to make your childs needless death mean something more than just grief?
    If the president called, before Fox News and the right wing hate machine we used to feel privileged and honored to get the call.
    Some of us would STILL be honored to get the call regardless of the mans political party.

    April 17, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    Yes, but that is nothing new. Many presidents use that approach to sway the public, especially at the State of the Union.

    On the other hand, Obama is the biggest "brain washing" President in American history.

    April 17, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. rs


    @ja: "Obama is president of the United States of America."

    No, Obama is president only of those who voted for him–he doesn't give a damn about anyone else.
    More blithering nuttiness! Project much? Which candidate said that 47% of Americans were beyond help, and not worth courting?

    April 17, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. acdcguy

    to all you Obama lovers........who are you people?? and where do you live? for the life of me, I cannot comprehend how you can support this man......

    April 17, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. rs

    Rand Paul is part of the incredibly corrupt and immoral pro-NRA lobby that feels 12,000 deaths a year is a fair price for letting the NRA run their legislative careers. These people are un-American and beneath contempt!

    April 17, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Lisa P.

    "The face I want to present is that I do care about those kids and I understand the grief that (the families) are going through..."

    I guess we'll know when Rand Paul really cares, as opposed to just wanting to look like he cares: when he starts backing real gun control laws and the money to fund them. Until then, take his fake concern and phony words of sympathy for what they're worth: $0.00

    April 17, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. jinx9to88

    What a joke the GOP has as potential candidates.

    April 17, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. wwf

    @HenryMiller – Sorry dude, President Obama is your President. Don't like it? Deal with it. Guess you should have worked harder to get Mr. % hired. Still don't like it? Deal with it. I did not care for our last President, but always paid him the respect he was due and when using his name addressed him as President Bush. Guess that is way beneath your standards. Figures.

    April 17, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. ghostriter

    Rand Paul is a clown. I wonder why he didn't mention the Barry Goldwater speech on the post-1960's conservative motive, called the Southern Strategy when he was at Howard?

    April 17, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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