May 23rd, 2010
11:08 AM ET
12 years ago

Paul withdraws from show appearance, but dominates discussion

Washington (CNN) - Rand Paul backed out of his Sunday morning talk show appearance, but that didn't stop people from talking about him.

Paul, the Tea Party-backed eye doctor who won Kentucky's Republican Senate primary last week, cited exhaustion as well as a desire to put behind him controversy over his comments on the Civil Rights Act in deciding against a previously scheduled appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," according to host David Gregory.

Gregory also said Paul's spokesman issued a statement saying Paul wanted to avoid the "liberal bias" of the media.

Paul, the son of former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has said he opposes racism but believes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was too expansive in dictating that privately-owned businesses must serve all customers. He later said he supported the landmark legislation but continued to question what he called the excessive role of government in the lives of U.S. citizens.

Most fellow Republicans characterized the issue as a mistake by a rookie politician, but Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who is African-American and is trying to broaden the party's support among minorities, said it involved a personal philosophy that "got in the way of reality."

"I think his philosophy is misplaced in these times. I don't think it's where the country is right now," Steele said on "FOX News Sunday." "The country litigated the issue of separate but equal. The country litigated the rights of minority people in this country to access the enterprise - free enterprise system, and accommodation and all of that. And that was crystallized in the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of '64."

Others agreed Paul erred, but noted he quickly clarified his support for the landmark civil rights legislation.

"His comments about the Civil Rights Act were unfortunate, and he's since then said that he would've voted for" it, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said on the CNN program "State of the Union."

Tennessee's veteran Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander used a baseball analogy, telling the CBS program "Face the Nation" that "even a very good baseball player sometimes has a hard time going from Triple-A to the Major Leagues."

"He made a mistake there," Alexander said.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate Republican Campaign Chairman, acknowledged on the NBC program that Paul's inexperience showed.

"You see novice candidates occasionally stumble on questions," Cornyn said, adding that the issue of Paul's stance on the civil rights law was "a fair question."

"What I heard him say is that he supports the Civil Rights Act," Cornyn said. "That should be the end of it."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaking on the FOX program, said Paul's situation was similar to her own interaction with the news media when she became the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008.

"One thing that we can learn in this lesson that I have learned and Rand Paul is learning now is don't assume that you can engage in a hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a media personality who has an agenda, who may be prejudiced before they even get into the interview in regards to what your answer may be - and then the opportunity that they seize to get you," Palin said. "You know, they're looking for that 'gotcha' moment."

On the same program, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said Paul's statements were more than just showing his inexperience.

"I think these statements were clearly wrong," Kaine said. "They reflect lifelong views, and ... I hope that members of the Republican Party will step up and condemn those statements and say they're wrong."

Kaine told the ABC program "This Week" that Paul's comments would help Democratic nominee Jack Conway in the November general election to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Jim Bunning.

On the same program, Steele noted Paul had reiterated his support for "pushing civil rights forward, as opposed to going backwards."

"Any attempt to look backwards is not in the best interest of our country certainly, and certainly not in the best interest of the party," Steele said.

However, Kaine also cited another Paul statement last week in which the candidate said it was "un-American" for the Obama administration to come down so hard on oil giant BP regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"Rand Paul is wrong," Kaine said. "It isn't un-American to hold somebody accountable for a massive environmental disaster."

Steele, however, said the Obama administration deserves the blame for failing to halt the underwater gusher.

"The federal government should have stepped into this thing immediately to help make sure that the appropriate steps were being taken by BP [and] all federal agencies in support of the state government to try to get this thing cleaned up," Steele said. "And here we are almost a month and a half later and it's still
spilling oil."

On another political miscue - the false claims by Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal that he saw active military duty in Vietnam - Democrats acknowledged that Blumenthal erred but noted the state's attorney general has regularly described his record accurately throughout his career.

"Those statements were wrong, period," Kaine said on the ABC program. "They were wrong. And it was very important for him to acknowledge that and clear that up. Now, in his defense, he has given numerous speeches that are in the public record where he's talked extensively about his service, what he did, what he didn't do."

Republicans, however, said Blumenthal showed he was willing to lie to voters, which they said would feed into the public anger against politics-as-usual.

"At a time when the American people are clearly rebelling against the same-old, same-old in politicians, Blumenthal is not the kind of guy I think they want to send anywhere, let alone to Washington to serve at this time, so I think there is a big credibility gap here," Steele said on the same program. "You can't say, well, you know, on the one instance, I lied to you, but on the other, since I made up for it by explaining why I lied to you. It doesn't make sense to the American people."

At the same time, Steele noted that in both the cases of Blumenthal and Paul, "the people in Connecticut, just like the people in Kentucky, will have the final say and the ultimate say on these leaders."

Updated: 1:23 p.m.

Filed under: John Cornyn • Michael Steele • Popular Posts • Rand Paul • Tim Kaine
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    I wonder if Mr. Steele is a "Little Uncomfortable" with some of Dr. Pauls positions on civil rights because some of those positions would allow a business owner to discriminate against him as the Chairman of the RNC. I suspect he does not have to be to concerned about that. I think that after his term is over, serving as it's Chairman in the future, would be "A Bridge To Far".

    May 23, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Betty

    ' "Liberal bias" of the media': Duh, how about Fox News? Hardly liberal there. If Mr. Paul can't take the heat, he should get out of the kitchen–ASAP. If this is the best the Republicans/Tea Party can muster, they're in pretty rough shape.

    May 23, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    How can we fix stupid? From Obama's stimulus, the right wingnuts get a tax break, Fox tells them its an increase and they go nuts. We finally get health reform, but Fox tells them there is a government takeover and death panels and the right wingnuts go nuts. The senate passes Wall Street reform, but Fox tells the right wingnuts that it is going to hurt tax payers, and the right wingnuts go nuts. The democrats try to put regulations on big oil, Fox tells the wingnuts that regulations are bad, and the wingnuts go nuts. Under Obama, national parks are now open to gun carriers, but Fox and Palin tell the right wingnuts that he is going to take away their guns, and the wingnuts go nuts.

    May 23, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. josephine

    He should do what Palin does, just keep flapping his gums with whatever he feels like saying and take no questions specially from reliable news organizations.

    May 23, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Francis

    "The federal government should have stepped into this thing [the BP oil spill] immediately..." I thought the Republicans are for less government. So much for consistency and logic on their part.

    May 23, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Felonious Monk

    and the back tracking begins...I have not as of this typing heard Rand Paul say he supports the civil rights legislation. I have not heard him say anything racially questionable either. He feels that private business/club/organization should be allowed to discriminate based on the color of skin. That is his belief. He has said that this is not something he supports.

    Somewhat questionable, somewhat sad, in this day and age...

    May 23, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Bob of Lompoc

    Retreated to his cave with his handlers. They need to calculate how to dig themselves out of the racist sewer in which they swim.

    This guy is like The Saturday Night At The Race Track girl V-P candidate – cannot be allowed to speak in public without severe prior Mainframe memory flush, and input of new information.

    Hint: Hey Rand(y), the Republican Party has finally learned their lesson. They stopped banging on the Blacks about five years ago. Read a book. Watch a little TV. Even listen to Boss Limbaugh. They're off the Blacks and on the Hispanics. You ever hear of Lou Dobbs?Catch up.

    Democrats: Don't you just love this?

    May 23, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. tim

    ONE huge distraction from the real issue which is the power of a private bank the FED to print money out of thin air. That isn't a racial issue......its a slavery issue for all of us. I promise you the fed and the government do not discriminate.....they want us all to be the name of "protecting us".
    You that think Rand Paul is a racist need serious mind opening readjustment. Ron Paul got into politics because Nixon eliminated the only restrainst on creating money out of thin air.....and that my fellow Americans is GOLD.
    Our country is in financial HELL and Rand wants us to get back to at least Earth....and hopefully then on to the promised land.
    Beware you need a real shephard......and the forces than oppose Rand Paul come from EVIL

    May 23, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Felonious Monk

    Exhaustion, he is tucking his tail and running...from what? Questions about his stance on issues?

    May 23, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. ex-republican since McCain picked disgusting Palin

    Paul and Palin peas in a pod, same hate filled lets blame Obama for everything wrong jerks, disgusting and getting old now guys. Hopefully those of you who in your heart know these nuts are way out will pull your support for them now. And stop already with the very old socialism stuff. That is nauseating. yea, you republicans picked a winner this time all out of hate for your half black President? Loved the comment about radio entertainers spreading hate. Sooooo comforting to know there are so many intelligent Americans out there by all of the comments I read against P & P.

    May 23, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    naive politician are probably the most honest politician. They probably don't know yet how to be a hypocrite and say what they believe. So I believe Rand Paul does really believe what he says about the Civil Act

    May 23, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    What I heard him say is that he supports the Civil Rights Act," Cornyn said. "That should be the end of it."

    OK Mr. Cornyn that is what you said. That having been said, when the Gov. of Hawaii said that the Birth Certificate of President Obama was the original and that he was indeed born in Hawaii, according to your logic, that should have been the end of it. Is that correct?

    May 23, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. Annie, Atlanta

    I disagree with Mr. Steele. How does our government stop an oil gusher? The only ones with anything coming close to that technology are the oil companies, and its not close enough. I hope the President shuts down all the deep water drilling in the Gulf asap. There are other rigs out there even deeper. Obviously no one is equipped to handle such a disaster. (I just hope the Gulf can survive this.)

    As far as Rand Paul's beliefs, he's going to have to do a lot more convincing (of me at least) that he's not a racist, when he condones racism as a right. Me thinks the boy grew up in a lily white world and has no clue as to our history and what he just unleashed, personally. Just what we need, another ignorant Senator. And it's interesting that he was pulled from the public eye (remind you of anyone?).

    May 23, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. chris

    I never seen a political candidate self destruct as fast as Rand Paul. Tuesday he wins the GOP nomination to run for Senate – not the actual Senate seat mind you, just the nomination. Wednesday he arrogantly calls out the President himself. By Thursday he's saying that business should be allowed to discrimate as much as they want. By Friday he's calling the President un-American and too harsh in the treatment of the BP execs over the oil spill.

    On the segregation thing – even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that he's not being racist, just pursuing his brand of Libertarianism absolutism – it still shows a tremendous naivete of how the real world works. In theory, a business that discriminates would lose some of their customer base and eventually go out of business. But in reality, in the South, businesses regularly discrimated for over a century. As long as they have a majority to keep the business solvent, whatever happens to the minority doesn't matter. I remember watching one documentary on civil rights where a southern store owner shouts "I'd rather burn my shop down then serve a n-–!" Do you really think arguments about market share and profitability are going to sway someone like him? In the real world greed, ignorance, short-sightedness and all the rest have a profound effect. That is why the free market will never self regulate and that is why we need reasonable regualtions in place to diminish abuse.

    May 23, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    Chairman Steele is " a Little Uncomfortable" with Dr.Paul's views on Civil Rights? Let me put your mind at ease Chairman Steele. After your term as RNC Chairman is completed, you will not have to be the least bit concerned about being discriminated against on the basis of your color. Should you ever decide that you want to run to become RNC Chairman again you will find that when your term ends, the RNC is going to run from you so fast you will wonder "where the yellow went."

    May 23, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Larry

    '.....liberal bias of the media?'

    Paul is a racist extremist whose daddy bought his way throught med school. He obviously doesn't have the intelligence to do it on his own.

    President Obama is too harsh on BP? We're facing the worst man-made disaster in history caused by big oil greed and we're being too harsh on BP?

    Paul, ignorance becomes stupidity when you start bragging about your ignorance.

    May 23, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Bigfoot

    I think it is fair to say that Rand Paul typifies the racist right.

    May 23, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. John from Brooklyn

    I do have to give credit to Rand Paul – he's actually honest.

    Republicans have systemically sought to backpeddle from civil rights achievements that have been made over the past 60 years. They've attacked Affirmative Action, the right of women to control their own bodies, attacked gay people as being beneath being worthy of privacy, sought to reverse desegregation....and the list goes on and on and on.

    Thanks, Rand Paul, for letting us know what the REAL Republican agenda is.

    May 23, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. White House Mouse

    I completely agree with Rand Paul cancelling his appearance. It would not have been a fair debate but a left-wing lynch mob taking one quote out of context and driving it into the ground. Typical left-wing bias. Ignore everything else the man has said and just ream him with the liberal "gotcha" quote. At least with Fox you can get both sides of the story heard.

    May 23, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
1 2 3