May 21st, 2010
04:41 PM ET
13 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. kravitz

    He Rand Away From Meet The Press.

    May 21, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. Robert Warner

    These people are simply going for a do-over of the Civil War.

    May 21, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
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