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

    He DID NOT stumble, he said what he believes in, and THAT beleif is what is what is wrong. It is interesting, whenever a republican says something that later proves to be a bad idea, they like to blame the press.

    May 23, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Molly Weasley

    "Novice candidate" my eye. Rand Paul has been all over TV for a solid year, but only on the Fixed News Channel, where no one was going to point out how ridiculous he is.

    When he wanted publicity, he went on Rachel Maddow's show a year ago to announce his candidacy for Senate. Then when he went on her show this week and she asked him to explain a position he had taken publicly in the past several times - that the Civil Rights Act shouldn't apply to public business - he couldn't respond without looking like a lunatic.

    Having Rand Paul in the Senate would be like having your crazy old uncle making law. Hey, tea partiers - this jerk is what you stand for. Want to join the real world anytime soon?

    May 23, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. FloridaRes

    As usual Steele wants to make this a failure of Obama admin. He and GOP take no responsibility for the mess they made of the govt organization tasked with being watchdog of Oil Industry. Notice how quiet Cheney (the former CEO of Halliburton – can we say BlowOut Preventer) has been lately – uncharacteristic isn't it. Could it be that mister BlowOut has prevented himself from speaking so he doesn't call attention to his failures and Bush's during the Bush-Cheney Administration?

    May 23, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. WHAT

    We learned that he is a male version of Palin, but unlike Palin he's learning to keep his mouth shut.

    May 23, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Jules

    "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."

    Are you kidding me? HE stumbled? That should be the end of it? What the RNC fails to admit, is that this guy spoke honestly about his views, and those views are not in line with what america has taken many years to achieve, that of equality, respect amoung races, and simple humanity. GOD help us if he is voted in, for this will surely mean backward steps for all of american and what we strived to stand for.

    May 23, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. Livin' the good life

    "an inexperienced candidate"? We DO NOT need this. We need people who are able to lead NOW. This is not an "on-the-job" training program. You need experience.

    As for Steele, "The federal government should have stepped into..." OK, you want less gov but more responsibility? That is what Obama is trying to do. YOU cannot have it BOTH ways Mister Steele and it IS EASY to point fingers when YOUR party is NOT in control. (And I HOPE never will be again!) WHERE WERE THE BAGGERS DURING THE BUSH FIASCO OF SPENDING!? AT least the spending is targeted FOR Americans now, NOT outside the country...Beau Colby

    May 23, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Fed Up!

    Steele would have been one of those whining the most if the Federal Government had stepped into this oil mess, caused by a private concern, from the beginning. So drop the hypocrisy Mike.

    And I certainly can not support a party that backs a candidate who tells me that I am un-American for criticizing British Petroleum.

    This Tea Party movement will be the end of the GOP. Too bad the Republicans don't have anyone with the guts to stand up to the Tea Partiers and Rush and Glen and Ann etc., etc., etc. They're great for getting headlines and getting their own nominated in primaries, but how will they be getting votes in the November election?

    May 23, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. Bill

    Rand Paul is a self proclaimed racist. Rand says cancelling his appearances is "avoiding the liberal bias of the media". Where I come from they call that being a coward. Make him stand and defend himself.

    May 23, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. jerseylou

    YUPER.....RAND PAUL is a pure blood racist and a prime example of what a educated fool is with a Ph.d !

    May 23, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. yoyoma

    yes lets blame the gov't for not doing enough to clean up a mega-rich companies oil spill while ranting about the intrusion of gov't into private business. what a clown this Steele dude is....what a clown

    May 23, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Checkmyfacts

    I was actually proud of Rand Paul for sticking to his guns before. He is a libertarian and they don't believe in government interference in the private sector. Be that a lunch counter that won't allow black people or a company that doesn't act responsibly and causes an environmental nightmare.

    Libertarian isn't just a differnt spelling for republican. It is a complete philosophy of the role of government. According to them only the free market should impact a person or company that screws up.

    I don't agree with this but at least he was being honest about what he really believes. Now the people around him will hunker down and try to coach him on how to spin these beliefs. He will now either learn to hide his convictions or avoid talking about them. Now I wouldn't trust anything he says because it will all be spin.

    May 23, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Drew

    I applaud Rand Paul for his honesty, followed by my immediate rejection of him for his insanity. I have no doubt this is what the rest of the rationale people in Kentucky will do as well when the time comes to vote.

    May 23, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. mk

    Rand Paul should go away and stay away, he knows his place and it is not amoung decent people.

    "I think it's important to understand that Rand Paul has clarified his statement and reiterated his support for... pushing civil rights forward, as opposed to going backwards," Steele said. "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."
    And who the h does Steel think he is kidding? The GOP has NO INTEREST in the "best interest of our country" . HYPOCRITES! All of them!

    May 23, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Bob in SC

    More republican lies and spins. They 'see' the sliver in another's eye, but fail to see the log in their own.

    May 23, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. Johnathan, WPB

    What is going on with the wing-nuttery on the right?

    I just heard a republican senator slam the dems for still blaming much of our mess on Bush. I'm sure if it was a democrat who handed over the country over to the GOP in the shape that Bush left it for Obama, they'd be rewritting textbooks blamng the democrat for what is really a GOP disaster.

    Why are we listening to the Paul's and the Palin's out there. We've been there and done that the republican way It don't work. At all.

    Heck, we've just finished 8 years under the male version of a Sarah Palin in the White House, with George Bush. Need more proof? How'd that work out for ya? (wink)

    May 23, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Randy, San Francisco

    Damage control by the GOP, Tea Party, and FOX news will not take back Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act. How can Paul claim to support the Civil Rights Act and oppose the role of government to require small businesses to serve all customers? Attempts to spin his comments with nuances and to blame a so called "liberal news media" will not deceive the majority of americans.

    May 23, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. FM

    GOP has to think twice with the endorsements Sarah Palin is making. A good example is Rand Paul. Why is he a "NO SHOW" while he has just won. Is this not like half quiting?

    May 23, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. Mickey, NY

    Rand Paul is a tool...plain and simple. He doesn't have the gonads to go on national TV because of "liberal bias"? If he is counting on FauxNews to propel his political career, might as well stick a fork in him...he's D-O-N-E!

    May 23, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. Livin' the good life

    Not just among these blogs but, in "real America", I am encountering more and more people who are truly sick and tired of all these so called "Relics" who think they know it "all" and the answers to everything. What kind of bizarro world are THEY [Relics'] livin' in!?...Beau Colby

    May 23, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Dawn Ada, Ohio

    Rand Paul Chose to go on a Liberal News Show to get attention and that is exactly what he got. The biggest mistake he made was to go on Rachel Maddow's Show. She is one of the ONLY talk show hosts who will NOT let her guests side step a question. He tried soooo many times to side step and back step and two step the mess he created on 2 other shows, but Rachel held him accountable for his crazy irrational thinking. If we would have left civil rights up to the American Public in the 1960's we would still have black only water fountains. Some times it takes courageous people to make things happen and some times laws have to side on the correct side and not the popular thinking of it's people, that is what happened with the Civil Rights Act. Now crazy tea partiers are trying to re write history and make it seem as if the majority wanted the Civil Rights Act.......they are wrong. The American Public had to be pulled kicking and screaming into the 20th and the 21st century. Now the Tea Party is trying to pull us backwards and I for one, will not go back.

    May 23, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. Dan in Harrisburg

    I see that Palin has already gone on the attack against the "left-wing liberal" media regarding this issue. Apparently the Wasilla Wingnut says that Maddow was "biased" and used "gotcha journalism" in order to embarrass Paul. She claims that the biased media dredges up items from the past. Yeah . . . in this case all of what ... 12 hours? (Paul had taken a similar stance earlier in the day during an interview.) Apparently Palin feels that if you're asked a question that forces you to actually KNOW something or if you're called upon to answer for the positions you have taken, it's "gotcha journalism." Of course, this is why that dimwit only takes pre-approved questions at her appearances and only shows up on FOX-News. She's afraid . . . she's a coward . . . and people like her and Rand Paul represent the absolute worst not only in politics but in society. The day Palin actually goes on a RESPECTED news program such as "Meet the Press" where she'll be challenged, she might earn my respect. Of course, there's about as much chance of that occurring as there is of Dick Cheney admitting the Iraq war was a mistake.

    May 23, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. James Brooklyn N.Y.

    The new Republican are here. Say what you want and run and hide hopping it will go away. I know a few people in Kentucky and they are already against him. They voted for him but regret it now.

    I think he is one and done.

    May 23, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. Robert

    So, Rand Paul believes and publically says that forcing the largest British Corporation in the world to be responsible and clean up the environmental and economic destruction and devastation it has caused and is causing to America and American citizens is "unamerican"?

    He opposes the 1964 Civil Rights Act even though he freely admits he has never read it and he believes that businesses should be able to put up "Whites Only" signs and return to the evil days of Jim Crow and the shame of segregation?

    He truly is a Republican.

    May 23, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. stevegee

    Rand Paul is a true patriot, and is representative of the mood of the country. The liberal media are just trying to paint him as a racist - and it's not going to work!

    Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the Democrats are trying to turn our country into a socialist nightmare - with the federal government controlling everything (think China).

    Wake up people! In 2010, vote American, vote Republican!

    May 23, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. Marie Md

    @Jonathan, WPB – the repugs are already rewriting history in Texas.
    rand paul is already being thrown under the bus by both republicans (in spite of what cornyn said on Meet the Press this morning) and, worse yet, he is being disowned by the teabaggers themselves. In the words of their nutsos leader . . . "He's (rand) a politician. He doesn't represent the moewment on anything." Mark Meckler, national coordinator of the teabaggers.
    Not only are the repugs being eaten alive by the teabaggers but now one of their own is being left to fend for himself in that nasty "liberal" media arena. After all what you say and what you think is a gotcha! At least he learned to keep his BIG mouth shut unlike the shrilla' from wasilla who is running for nothing except money in the bank.
    Maybe they arereally twins separated at birth!! 🙂

    May 23, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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