May 21st, 2010
04:41 PM ET
10 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. Jaywing

    If anyone was still questioning whether the tea-bagger party was a movement packed with racists, I believe the answer is obvious now. Rand Paul is a racist and wants to be in the pockets of BP and Wall Street, and he'll lie, back-pedal and sell his soul to get elected. Wake up Kentucky - he' your Sarah Palin, ya betcha!

    May 21, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    you would think that one of the last things that anyone afflliated with the Tea Party movement is a stand that can be perceived as being racist. They have a very negative image already thanks to the right-wing wacko bigoted fringe of their movement and it's going to hard to erase that in the minds of many people especially progressives. Now along comes Rand Paul making one of the STUPIDIST claims any politican this day and age can make and he and his daddy are trying to cover it up. Well with the Tea Party folks, Sarh Palin, perhaps Boss Limbaugh backing him up more than likely he'll survive the firestorm, but it leaves me to wonder if this is what America really wants representing them and if so we have a bigger problem than just the economy IMO!

    May 21, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Copying From The Smart Kid in Class?

    Mr. Paul –

    You are the Republican nominee for the Senate seat in Kentucky.

    You have said that you are against government regulation that tells people , and in your own words, businesses what they CAN and CAN NOT do. You are a Libertarian ... right.

    So here is a question I'll expect David Gregory to ask you on Meet the Press.

    Q: Should the government place restrictions on a woman's right to have an abortion?

    Before you answer, remember that on the Rachel Maddow Show, you REPEATEDLY said that no matter how abhorhent you personally found racial discrimination, people should be able to discriminate if they chose to.

    May 21, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Gary

    Rand Paul is burying himself. The more he talks the more he looks like a nut. Whites only lunch counters, ok? American with Disabilities Act, wrong? Obama too tough on BP?

    May 21, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  5. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    Steve (the real one) still doesn't understand the difference between a bartender refusing to serve a man becasue he is drunk and refusing to serve a man because he is black.

    But Steve (the real one) might be a Libertarian, in that comparing apples to oranges is completely logical.

    Kinda like a Tea Party Libertarian collecting Social Security and/or Medicare.

    Shakespeare would love Libertarians, even he couldn't write such irony.

    May 21, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. Papasan in AZ

    BTW: what is up with that very fairy hairdo Rand! Stop letting your cousin/girlfriend cut your hair!

    May 21, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Word on the street is he's trying to grow a Traficant-do.
    It's like Lego-hair for crazies.

    May 21, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    @ no Incumbents 2010

    you're right...I think people who are racists ARE tired of being called racist! They have gotten away with being that way for years so why point this out now.

    Paul/Palin 2012

    May 21, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. Michael

    DemoRATS will try anything to confuse the people of America. It's time to THROW ALL OF THE DEMORATS OUT LIKE TRASH.

    May 21, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. Molly Weasley

    Rand Paul - the gift that keeps on giving.

    May 21, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Not Republican

    Rand Paul is lying in an attempt to save his political future (although he'll still be eligible to be KKK's grand wizzard).

    The disconnect with Paul's qualification that he abhors the Jim Crow era.. he says that discrimination should not be practiced by 'public institutions'. But private institutions, which include restaurants, clubs of any kind, and just about everyplace except the public library, SHOULD have the right to discriminate.

    We'll see just how backward Kentucky is... we already know they're more challenged than most, but hopefully there exists a majority that doesn't want a biggot representing their state.

    May 21, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  12. Larry

    @ Steve.. You can choose to be drunk, choose not to wear shoes or a shirt, and you can choose to be Catholic or Baptist but you can't choose to be what color you are born nor your sex. See it is thoughts like this why there are still struggles. Racism is still alive and well from all races. But the law helps protect people against it. I think what some caucasians don't realize is you still control the majority compnies in this nation. If there were no laws to protect other, Ii wonder what would happen.

    May 21, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. Marie

    Paul showed the true colors of what tea party members are about. The peoplel here defending this man, believe the same thing he does, that women and minorities should be in the back of the bus, and don't deserve the same rights that they themselves have.

    May 21, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. Elle in Idaho

    Just add him to the rest of the Tea Party Nutcases. And chalk another one up to the "we're not racist" allegations. Whoops! Slipped a little bit there.

    May 21, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. Micklepickle

    DId he chide Gov. Jindal for his strong statements on BP?

    May 21, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  16. John from NH

    Wow, if you believe in the tea party principles, you are racist? I guess that comes as a suprise to me. I believe in the principles and I've been black for about 47 yrs now. My father has been black for 70 yrs and he believes in those same principles. We also believe in what Martin Luther King stated. His children should be measured upon the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Whenever you talk about the first "black" this, or the first "Latino" that, you are doing nothing but labelling. This madness needs to stop. Civil rights led to some fantastic changes. Civil rights is about leveling the playing field, not about how much more someone can get based upon being a minority. The how much more can someone get mentality has been nothing but a new way to enslave minorities to a new master, the Democratic Party, who doesn't care about blacks, other than counting on their guarenteed vote. Whenever your vote is guaranteed, why should someone listen to you?
    Ask yourself this, Has anyone claimed that his father is a racist? I haven't really heard that claim made before and people get alot of what they are from their parents.

    May 21, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. bennie

    Rand Paul spoke from his heart when he first made his racists bigoted comments there is no way he can peddle himself back to safety by claiming that he didn't mean to imply what he clearly stated in a round about way that he would roll back the clock and deny blacks their equal justice and right to sit at a white lunch counter if the restaurant is privately owned This bigot is not fit for any position above ground certainly not in any of the highest public offices in the U.S. he should stay in Kentucky where he is in good company of those who understand agree and accept that kind of antiquated garbage. he is a disgrace to what America alleges to stand to day and many died fighting for the right to be treated as equal citizens. Rand Paul is a dangerous and destructive devil who should never make it to congress.

    May 21, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. Common Cents

    He should just go ahead and legally change his name to "Rant" Paul..

    May 21, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Paul is not sure how he would have voted for the Americans with Disability Act? Less federal involvement in business is a great sound bite but when you hear the lens Rand Paul sees things through he's not going to be a champion of people with disabilities, civil rights, environmental legislation and other laws that benefit everyone but we take for granted. Don't buy it no matter how good it sounds. The devil is in the details. When people like him are elected forget reforming anything. It wouldn't suprise me if the National Parks are sold to private businesses. After all, why should the government bureaucrats manage Yosmite and close it off to development? You could have a resort near Half Dome generating tax revenue and jobs. Get the too big and very bad governemnt out of the way of EVERYTHING!

    May 21, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. DIANA

    I would love to see the question asked by Copying from the Smart Kid. I'm curious to see what he would say about that. After all, the government can't interfere in a woman's right to choose, just like it can't interfere in a businesses. Someone PLEASE ask him that question. As a matter of fact, ask all of the teabaggers that quesiton. Do they want to government to interfere in their rights to choose?

    Keep talking Rand.

    May 21, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |

    You're full of C.R.A.P. Paul is hard-charging just like Palin and the Tea Party.

    May 21, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. Jo Jo

    He’s just another backwards thinking politician who can't seem to adapt to change. It's so easy for someone like him to have issues with the Civil Rights Act when he did not have to endure the brutality these people went through just to sit at a "public" counter for a drink or food. I wish people like Paul could go back in time as a black man or woman and see how it felt to be brutalized. It just boils my blood to hear such asinine words coming out of a politician’s month.

    May 21, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  23. Kevin from Texas

    I don't understand my liberal friends on this one, getting their briefs all in a bunch. Rand Paul is a smart and articulate politician who is sticking to his beliefs. He isn't "suggesting" anything when he says that the U.S. government has no place telling a private business what to do or not to do. He believes this. I also, take him at his word that he would no go to a restaurant that refused to serve blacks, or whites, or hispanics or tall people. I believe him when he says he might boycott these establishments. All he is saying is that it is not governments place to tell private companies what to do, it is societies. He believes that we as a society should tell them that racism and discrimination is wrong. Where he and I differ is that I believe in a society run by a government by the people, of the people and for the people. And this society run by this kind of government in the 1960s decided that it had had enough of businesses discriminating against blacks and others. That as a society we were going to do something about this through our legal system. Rand Paul opposes that method, he'd rather have individuals do this. Sounds too much like Bush's compassionate conservatism that didn't work so well (it was neither very compassionate, nor very fiscally conservative.)

    May 21, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. Gil

    If his recent comments are anything like what we would get if he were elected I don't want us to go back to the Stone Age. This man is so right wing and anti- American that if the right wants him they should start wearing "Brown Shirts" and doing the goose step!

    May 21, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  25. glenda

    Now I know Rand Paul is insane and a lier. I thought he was for all the people.

    May 21, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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