(CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday clarified comments he made last week about the government's role in discouraging women from having children out of wedlock as a way to stem poverty.
The Republican senator from Kentucky said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he didn't "come up with a policy prescription," such as limiting government aid, but rather said it's up to communities to resolve the problem, which he called the No. 1 cause of poverty in the country.
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"I mused about how you'd have a government policy, but I actually came down saying it would be very difficult to have a government policy," the potential 2016 presidential candidate said.
"I mostly concluded by saying it's a community, it's a religious, it's a personal problem, but it is a problem," Paul said.
The first-term senator originally made the comments Thursday in Kentucky at a luncheon in response to a question, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Though he acknowledged communities ultimately are responsible for creating social warnings about unwanted pregnancies, he pondered a possible approach by the government, according to the report.
"You know, but we have to teach our kids that," Paul said. "But some of that's sort of some tough love too. Maybe we have to say, 'Enough's enough, you shouldn't be having kids after a certain amount.' I don't know how you do all that, because then it's tough to tell a woman with four kids that (if) she's got a fifth kid, we're not going to give her any more money."
As the article noted, 30.9% of single-mother households fall under the poverty line, compared to 6.3% of married households and 16.4% of single-father households, according to 2012 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Government can't do anything about this," Paul told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday, but added: "We shouldn't just give up."
"The community, ministers, pastors, parents, grandparents, we need to be saying - and this is maybe one of the most important things we ought to be saying that doesn't have a specific policy prescription - but we need to be telling our kids that poverty is linked to having children before you're married," he said. "The institution of marriage is incredibly important, not just as a religious institution but as an economic institution."
"It's not that I'm against children - I come from a large family," he added. "In the right context, it can lead to a great life, but in the wrong context, it really can be a burden for those who aren't yet married."
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