May 20th, 2010
12:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Paul takes heat for civil rights comments

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Paul is facing fire for comments on the Civil Rights Act."](CNN) - Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway is putting the heat on GOP rival Rand Paul over Paul's recent comments regarding the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Paul - the Tea Party favorite who easily beat Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the state's May 18 Senate primary - repeatedly dodged questions in recent media interviews about whether he thinks parts of the landmark legislation amount to a constitutional overreach.

An interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal last month highlighted Paul's controversial views during which he said: "I don't like the idea of telling private business owners-I abhor racism-I think it's a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same time I do believe in private ownership. But I think there should be absolutely no discrimination on anything that gets any public funding and that's most of what the Civil Rights Act was about to my mind."

Following his primary victory on Tuesday, Paul was again questioned over his views regarding the legislation on National Public Radio and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. In response to questions, Paul said he supports the 46-year old measure except for the provisions that outlaw private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.

While stressing that he is opposed to discrimination in any form, Paul suggested the measure runs up against individuals' First Amendment and property rights.

"I think what's important in this debate is not getting into any specific 'gotcha' on this, but asking the question 'What about freedom of speech?' Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things that freedom requires," he said.

He also said, "[I]f you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant, even though the owner of the restaurant says, 'Well, no. We don't want to have guns in here.' The bar says we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each other. Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?"

Conway said the statements are indicative of Paul's "narrow political philosophy that has dangerous consequences for working families, veterans, students, the disabled, and those without a voice in the halls of power."

The Democratic National committee is also putting the heat on Paul, sending several e-mails to reporters Thursday morning highlighting the quotes.

In a subsequent statement Thursday Paul made clear he does not believe the Civil Rights Act should be repealed.

Paul also took issue with the American with Disabilities Act - the 1990 measure that afforded the same rights to individuals with disabilities as those who are protected by the Civil Rights Act.

"I think a lot of things could be handled locally," he told NPR of the legislation. "For example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for people with disabilities and handicaps. You know, we do it in our office with wheelchair ramps and things like that. I think if you have a two-story office and you hire someone who's handicapped, it might be reasonable to let him have an office on the first floor rather than the government saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to the solutions like that, the more local the better, and the more common sense the decisions are, rather than having a federal government make those decisions."

Paul is a first time political candidate and son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Paul's victory levied a direct blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who tapped Grayson for the party nomination last year. McConnell and other GOP leaders in Washington, however, were quick to line up behind Paul after his win in a show of party unity.

Paul will be a guest on The Situation Room Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.

Filed under: 2010 • Jack Conway • Kentucky • Popular Posts • Rand Paul
soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. nipp

    Part of the incendiary, racist way to take "the country back".Back for whom:irish-americans, italian-americans, chinese-americans,native americans,arab americans, hindu-americans,jewish- americans, cuban-americans, mexican-americans??.Maybe, just maybe in two more years our hospitals, bussinesses,tech-companies will be in jeopardy because Paul comments.Who going to run the economy,the wealth and entrepeneur of this country if we take "our country back? a bunch of crappy -stupid people who don't appreciatte the greatness of this country since the beggining?
    I strongly recommend to Mr. Paul the history channel documentary: "America, the story of us"

    May 20, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Seattle

    Face: meet Palm
    Kentucky: Get a clue
    Paul: Are, you, serious?????
    America: Here's your sign!

    May 20, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. steve weisbond

    i watched the interview on msnbc, and my wife and i couldn't believe this guy. what a total incompetent...couldnt answer the simple question, just kept babbling nonsense. rachel did an excellent job exposing this guy, and he epitomizes the tea party mentality. .

    May 20, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. Tony in Nashville

    Fay – someone who cannot spell the words talks, moron, or opportunist should probably not be calling anyone ignorant. Mr Paul is correct in most of what he says. If I own my own business, what I do with it an who I hire or not hire is my business. Go into a Mexican restaurant and tell me they hire anybody but Mexicans. It is time for all of this political correctness to go away and be replaced by plain old common sense.

    May 20, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. cobra

    I believe in racism, I am sick of all the whining from the left wing and guys like Sharpton and Jackson. We have to remember we don't owe them anything and in fact they owe use for taking care of them since most of them don't work. Get over it Libs!!!

    May 20, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    He is not my choice, but I do agree with him about ownership. If I own a bar and want to allow smoking, say what? If you don't want to come into a smoking bar, open up your own non-smoking bar/restaurant. Let's stay open minded about things, guys. But, don't be so open-minded that everything falls out! The Tea Party is just that...a party. Everybody loves a party! In November, remember not to vote with your heart or your mind, but with a good conscience.

    May 20, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Albert R. Killackey, Esq.

    Henry Miller’s brief comment below is wrong. Congress has power to regulate Interstate Commerce and when a business is open to the public it is in the stream of commerce. For example, say a hotel discriminated against people based on a particular attribute of human nature. Such discrimination would have a chilling effect on people leaving home to do business. The same is true with a restaurant. One less steak sold means less profit for the farmer and so forth. Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964).

    May 20, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. Brook

    "I abhor racism, BUT..." "I support the Civil Rights Act, BUT..." "I oppose discrimination in any form, BUT..."

    Hey Paul, why don't you just BUTT OUT!

    May 20, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Former Republican

    The far-right Republicans are racists, plain and simple.

    May 20, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. jonny

    it's already come out many times how racist and homophobic Ron Paul and son Rand are.
    This is well known, that why right wingers love 'em.

    May 20, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. carolyn

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    May 20, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. RJ

    If you want to know what the tea pary is really all about, its right here in Paul's comments. Let's turn back the clock 100 years on Civil Rights. I'm sure if asked he's be OK with slavery as well as long as its not government funded. What a pea-brain. Let's hope the tea party elects a bunch of candidiates for the Repulican cause. Its the best way to ensure a democratic victory. Now if we can only get them to nominate that Palin woman as their nominee for Pres, we will have it made. Palin for Pres – yaaay!

    May 20, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Outraged

    Let's NOT miss all the intent to discredit ANYONE having semblance to "thrown the incumbent scoundrels out. NO!!! pail's NOT perfect but a FAR greater reprersentative voice than the deviate, scoundrel, liars, thieves that have PROVEN themselves to be UNtrustworthy.
    The "train is comin' to throw them out with YOUR vote.

    Paul will be reminded that the vote VOICE that elects him, will throw hs A _ _ OUT QUICKLY if he does ANNYTHING against the voters melecting him. DITTO for any other POLI-TICIAN (many bloodsuckers) thinking they can do the opposite for PERSONAL GAIN then the platform they campaigned.

    Yes, Civil Rights, is important, but we have many other pressing referendums in jeopardy of BEING VOTED DOWN OR NOT ACTED ON, while we debate a single issue. These issues (financial reform, credit card reform, smaller transparent government, ILLIGEAL government contract awarding, ear marks, Bail out accountability and fund tracking, Etceterra, .

    DON'T fall for the poli-ticians ploy of keeping you busy with their lying rhetoric( rhat you want to hear to keep you ignorant) while they play the "hide the shell game)

    WHERE IS THE TAX MONEY we've paid and entrusted to [POLITICIANS THAT ARE KNOWN LIARS, THIEVES, MISCREANTS, WOMANIZERS that CONTINUE TO violate VOTERS, living in OUR paid for mansions while we are lied to and strung out with EMPTY PROMISES to believe while they CONTINUE TO STEAL OUR TAX MONIES AND OUR FAMILIES FINANCIAL FUTURES.
    'Evil is allowed to flourish when good people DON't stand up against it"
    America-get on point. Focus on the damage being done by OUR inaction. Liars and thieves are JAILED every day when ONE of US does it. NOTHING happens to "them" SYOP THAT SH _ _ NOW.

    May 20, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Jim In Miami

    The primaries on Tuesday were very good for the 'progressives'
    Now both Pennsylvania and Kentucky are quite 'winnable'
    Rand Paul isn't a racist – but he would 'give cover' to those that are

    May 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. David in Houston

    Absolutely ridiculous...

    Wow, Kentucky...really?

    May 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Moderate

    Not only was his first comments concerning President Obama arrogant, I find him and his racist tea party boorish and uncivilized. Maybe he likes watching crippled old men being taunted on film by his adherance while tossing dollar bills at him.

    Take what country back? Our country won't use tactics like that to harm people. The country I know is fair, loving and willing to work together for a better future. My country also has elections which form its policies and direct its future.

    Want to claim a country, win a national election with your own presidential candidate.

    "Me, I'll protest where ever you speak you racist arrogant child

    May 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. notfooledbydistractions

    Yeah, Mr. Paul obviously wants his country back, along with the tea tantrumers. The country as it was in the 1800's.

    Hey Kentucky, do you really want to elect this backward putz? Better hold onto your social security checks and your medicare cards because those programs are also on his opposition list.

    This wingnut makes election season look a whole lot easier for the democrats.

    May 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. Carol

    Guy M. Long III is absolutely right!

    The 'Tea Party' will fall apart right after the November elections due to differences in philosophy within it.

    May 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. bigete

    Dear Tea Party members you have a select few like Rand Paul who seem to be using your cause for their own political gain.

    I do not think all tea party memebrs support abolishing cival rights act and disabilities act.

    Rand Paul comments are scary and in my eyes Fascist.

    Read between the lines tea party members Rand Paul is a snake oil salesmen --wise up theirs a fox in your hen house

    May 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. charlie from the North

    But at the same time I do believe in private ownership.

    Which would make him a great candidate for the Senate of the Confederacy. BTW Kentucky was a "free state" so he would have to go a few hundred miles south as well as a few hundred years back in time.

    May 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. Steve, New York City

    I do not believe that Rand Paul is a racist. I also think that the majority of Tea Party people are probably not racists.

    However, Tea Party leaders should really speak up, when "fringe elements" within this movement start saying and doing stupid things – such as the guy insulting Muslims as he talked about a 9/11 memorial here in New York, or this infantile quest (by some in this movement) to somehow prove that President Obama was not born in the United States.
    . . .one can add that loud-mouthed, moron Rep Wilson yelling "you lie" at the president (like he would have ever treated Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton with such disrespect).

    In world history, we've seen too many instances where silence equals "appeasement."

    May 20, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Scott – you are ABSOLUTELY correct! "Rand is 100% right on these issues. If people would actually look at what he's saying instead of being simple-minded and looking only at the surface, they would understand where he's coming from and would realize he makes good points. Way too many people refuse to question anything that they've always believed was a certain way so they automatically discredit anyone like Rand who raises an argument for the other side."

    Without dissent, and the ability to dissent, we become a bunch of robots. Judging by the responses to this article, we're 90% there already...thanks to the government for perpetuating these ideas of entitlement and the department of education who encourages testing over free thinking.

    May 20, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Steve in North Carolina

    Well, well. This guy is obviously scaring the status quo. Let the race baiting begin!

    May 20, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. yeha398

    Typical Wing-Nutt. And these people want to run the country; Heaven help us.

    May 20, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Randy

    I think his views pretty much sum up the teabaggers. The Tea party aka the KKK.

    May 20, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14