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. tstorm

    Rand Paul is a typical tea-bagging Republican; racist, selfish, arrogant, and anti-American.

    May 21, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  2. paul

    Sometimes your "hidden" agenda comes to the forefront when you step to the podium. Personally, I would much prefer the current adminstration over the "wing nuts" that are being elected in some of the primaries. Scary to thingk of what will happen with those taking their orders from the Limbaughs, Palins, Hannities, Beck's and other extremists. My mother always used to say, "be careful what you wish for".

    May 21, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. valli6

    It's funny that Conway accuses Paul of favoring corporations, when in fact Conway is the one who's received a donation from BP – NOT Paul! What a hypocrite!

    May 21, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |

    By the time the election gets here Paul will be backtracking on lots of things he'll be saying. His views are so out of touch with mainstream America that it's not even funny. Mr. Paul and the Tea Baggers will pull the GOP so far to the right that even the JBS will be on their left.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    May 21, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Robert

    I saw the Rachel Maddow interview, and some people are claiming she set him up.

    That is a lie.

    She was overly fair and polite, and gave him several opportunities to change his position, even telling him she suspected his response would cause a firestorm.

    She is clearly the best newscaster in this country, always doing her homework and always polite. But she will nail you if you show any hypocrisy or take a position that is indefensible.

    May 21, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    Ok, I'm confused. Rand Paul doesn't want government involved, at all, yet it's ok to be involved in prohibiting gay marriage or a woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. But what's really confusing is that he is so against government, yet wants desperately to be a part of it. It would be interesting to hear from the people of KY on these conflicts, or just their thoughts period.

    May 21, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. Gerry NH

    Why would you go to a business that dosen't want to serve you? There are plenty of bisiness that would love your money.

    May 21, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. Republicans is smart in the head area

    The best part is not only is he screwing up his own campaign, his association with the Tea Party is screwing up theirs by extension. And I for one am glad.

    May 21, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. Annie, Atlanta

    Michael, where do you get off saying we're causing confusion? Do you not hear what this idiot is saying, over and over again for anyone anywhere? I just heard on the Situation Room that an appearance for Paul this weekend has been canceled. Want to bet the GOP is reigning him in?

    May 21, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. welches, oregon

    Look if you have a business or offer services to the PUBLIC than you should not be able to discriminate who that public is. If you want an exclusive club – then charge membership fees and exclude whomever you wish.

    If we start discriminating against one group – every group is in trouble.

    Why is this different than a woman deciding on her own to have an abortion. Randy boy sure wnats to gov. to tell that woman what she can do with her PRIVATE body.

    It's just so hypocritical and everyone sees the holes in it.

    The right wing defense of this is so well, silly, that everyone things you're all just clowns.

    May 21, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. Gregg2

    If you think Rand Paul is Racist then you are apparently not intelligent enough to understand what he is saying and why he is saying it.

    Calling people names is like kindergarten children and I see more people acting like it on these comments by just saying he's a racist...

    Come on people if you don't agree with him then say why you disagree with him and speak your reasons but don't call him names and say he's racist.. that just makes you look like a child and nobody will take you seriously.

    Rand Paul has very intelligent views on why he stands where he does on these issues and I applaud him for that. You may not agree with him but that does NOT mean he is racist..

    If you don't agree state why but I'm tired of seeing the "racist republican" crap all the time, it just makes democrats look like spoiled children and I happen to like some democrats as well as republicans..

    This is NOT a playground or football game, these are real every day issues that effect everyone and we need to discuss and debate them like adults. Acting like a child will get you nowhere.

    May 21, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Bob of Lompoc

    Rand Paul didn't get the Republican memo: Pestering the Blacks has run it's course. It doesn't make Political hay any longer. It's the Hispanics we going to use as a wedge issue now. Racism as always, true. Just a different race. Republicans never change. They're sort of like the Pony Express Riders: They keep going. They just change horses.

    May 21, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. alpha_nu_916

    why do the teabaggers wax poetic about the good ol' days? racism, death at 40 years of age from tb, infant-mortality rates over 30%, weekly baths, outhouses, famine. that sucks, dude. . .

    May 21, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. brett

    I understand rand's point of the government overstepping its authority with small businesses, free market jazz and all. But, holy cow, any other analogy would have worked better. This guy won't last long talking like this.

    May 21, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. Marlene

    Clearly, Mr. Paul isn't ready to be a United States Senator, in 2010. One would have thought he would have learned more about the way to spin the media, from his father, Ron Paul. But, maybe that is how he acquired his singular world view, sheltered from reality. I wonder if he spent his formative years growing up in Texas? Marlene in Mich

    May 21, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. welches, oregon

    @ Chris

    Yes we know what Paul was saying – EVERYBODY gets what Paul is saying. But you apparently don't understand the ramifications of it.

    I'll explain it in clear English for you: Paul thinks it's perfectly ok for a private business owner to discriminate on the basis of race, skin, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

    Didn't we already go thru all this 40 years ago?

    So, Chris, do you think it would be ok for a black business owner to put out a sign "White not welcome" ? Would that be ok with you?

    May 21, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. beevee

    It is such a shame that this highly educated person living in a different time in his views and opinions. Hope he will never get elected to any political office.

    May 21, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  18. james

    I think Conway is a good candidate, but he's less consistent than even Rand Paul. He doesn't believe in gay marriage and he has this oppressive stance against medical marijuana and drugs. He's really reminiscent of John Edwards. Really shallow guy that says one thing and does another. That's politics for you though, right?

    May 21, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. Marty, FL

    There is no "suggested" about it–Rand Paul believes private companies have a right to discriminate against blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc. and persons with diabilities. His extreme positions do not belong in our government in the 21st Century.

    Our Constitution has upheld protections from the Civil Rights and ADA. The American people deserve public servants who honor these principles. Go Conway!

    May 21, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  20. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Obviously the right wing seems to believe Americans should just let businesses discriminate as they please, pollute as much as they like it or rip-off consumers under any means they feel like.

    This is exactly why the Republican naive philosophy of extreme laissez-faire policy is such a failure.

    May 21, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  21. Fed Up!

    Rand Paul is so out of touch with the average American.

    He is not backpedaling because he sees nothing wrong with what he said in the first place.

    That alone should send you to a very scary place.

    May 21, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  22. Corbett

    The Paul Dynasty has a few interesting ideas, but in the end, they are the same political sideshow as Perot and Palin. Congrats Conway, you just got a free ride, now don't screw up like everyone else in your party.

    May 21, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  23. Holding Up A Mirror

    Sir –

    You want to run for the United States Senate before earning your stripes in the Kentucky state legislature or in the House of Representatives.

    You are not ready for prime time and America can't afford for you to learn as you go.

    No qualified, serious candidate for national office DUCKS an appearance on MEET THE PRESS. You need another week or month to study ... is that it?

    May 21, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  24. tony

    Clearly the Tea Partiers made a mistake with Scott Brown. He actually works with Democrats on some occasions instead of just saying no, like most of Republicans. But not to worry, they found someone who thinks exactly like them in Rand Paul. A male version of Sarah Palin. In Rand Paul, they found someone who will take the government back- to the 18th Century.

    May 21, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  25. Don

    It's quite apparent that Rand Paul represents the tea party closeness to big corporate America.

    How anyone in rural Kentucky can think that the tea party is for "the little guy" is beyond me.

    May 21, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
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