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. George

    Rand Paul didn't make a mistake. He said what he really thinks. It was Kentucky's voters who made a mistake by voting for him as the GOP candidate and now they have egg on their faces. This is what comes from voting for candidates, based purely on unwarranted anger. This same mood is what gave us the Gingrich clowns of '94, which we had to put up with for 12 years. Has America learned its lesson? I doubt it. They'll keep doing this and create the exact gridlock that they say they detest and they will assure that nothing gets done in Washington. You can't please the American voter. If politicians take action, they are villified for "shoving legislation down our throats" and creating big government. If they don't take action, they are seen as lazy and unconcerned with the people. Americans want to hate their government, so no one of any real talent will ever run for public office. Instead, we will continue to see a steady flow of terrible candidates in both parties, who will give us nothing in the way of progress or growth of any kind. America, you got just what you deserve.

    May 23, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. Patty Patriot

    You want to talk about Rand Paul – how about talking about all the democrats who gave a standing ovation to a foreign president who was criticizing the USA – everyone of those democrats should be arrested for treason and every republican who did not get up and walk out when calderone was criticizing the USA should be strongly reprimanded.

    May 23, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. ShiWms in Phx AZ

    Are Sarah and Rand related? They sure think, talk and act alike!

    Hey Sarah – You still wanna "DRILL BABY DRILL"?????

    May 23, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Rand the Coward

    Now he's gonna hide behind faux news' skirt!!!

    May 23, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. American Patriot

    Libertarianism is the perfect form of Government...if you live in a tribe of 50 – 100 people.

    May 23, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. Len Smith

    Where is this so called liberal bias of the media. I don't watch TV and don't even have it hooked up in my home. I do, however, read the paper and I see that points are made by both conservative and so called liberal writers. Most of what I see on the Internet seems to me to be rather conservative and I just stop listening to the radio, because it is full of entertainers that get paid too much to just stir hated. So what is Paul's issue? Is it that he really believes what he has been saying and believes it, but doesn't want people to know it for sure?

    May 23, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. Trevor, Austin, TX

    If you don't understand Paul's comments in the context of vying for a much smaller federal government with limited powers over the private sector, I feel sorry for you and your lack of brain power. I don't agree with him on that issue, and within a day or two he acknowledged that federal intervention unfortunately was required in the South. However he has consistently said he agrees with 9/10 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and is against discrimination of any form, and would have voted for the Civil Rights Act. He has NEVER called for any form of repeal of the act.

    What is important to realize is that he was 1 year old in 1964 so it's not exactly fair to grill him on the issue or to argue the absurdly hypothetical "What would you have done if were a senator in 1964?" when he is campaigning to be a Senator in 2010, almost 50 years after the fact.

    May 23, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Wayne

    I love the comments here. I could not find one in support of Rand Paul. Here's hoping the KY gives him the defeat he so richly deserves.

    May 23, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. Johnathan, WPB

    Mr Steele:

    Ifhe GOP had the White House today, this is what we would be hearing from them regarding the BP mess:

    "What oil spill?"

    May 23, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. The Clear Thinking Independent Voter

    Wow ... where to begin ...

    1.) Rand Paul announced of Friday he was exhausted and couldn't go on a show scheduled two days later after probably 16 hours of sleep but he was not too exhausted to attend a GOP unity rally on Saturday.

    2.) It wasn't the liberal media bias that did Paul in, it was his views. Blaming the "lame stream media" sounds like something we get from intellectual weaklings like Sarah Palin. It is not what we expect from someone that wants to be part of the Federal Government. Professional journalists will continue to ask Mr. Paul what he believes.

    Next up: Mr. Paul, you expouse individual freedom and liberty, no matter how distasteful you find their behavior. So do support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion? Mr. Republican nominee in Kentucky ??? Where are your values, sir?

    3.) The GOP, and Tea Partiers in particular, tell the President to stop taking over and running businesses. But in the next breath, Michael Steele wants the President to put the Federal Government in the oil business ... like he ran to be Red Adair ... to stop a massive leak resulting from shoddy equipment and lazze faire practices that were approved and implemented by Republican friends of big oil ... who doesn't recall Cheney's closed door sessions with oil companies?

    May 23, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. Tam

    Just let him and his friends keep on talkin' - enough rope.....

    May 23, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Another case of this man not having a clue.
    The media is controlled by conservative owners with the exception of CNN. Every chairman of the board and most of the board members on thos boards , have conservative credentials and leanings.
    Their only tendencies is for sensationalism for ratings and sales.

    May 23, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Arocksteady

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

    Sen, Cornyn, does this also apply to President Obama being born in Hawaii or his faith? Could you please use this same reasoning in regards to the views and policies of your political opponents and not just those on your side of the aisle?

    May 23, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Charlie in Maine

    Go easy on this one for now Democrats. If you frighten him out of the election (by repeatring his own words) too soon the GOP will have time to select another when he folds up.

    May 23, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Jay

    Cornyn, Paul didn't make a mistake - he said exactly what he thinks. He's the tea-bagger mentality wrapped in a single package. He's a racist. He's an elitist. He's a pampered, white-boy millionaire, who has no connection with the realities of everyday, working Americans. He wants to be in the pockets of BP, big banks, big insurance and big Wall Street CEOs. And IF the GOP had any brains, they'd run as far away as possible from him. But no, they're happy to wrap their arms around this bigot and pat him on the back. The Republican party is rapidly becoming a circus - a badly run circus - a circus of fools.

    May 23, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Nathan - AZ

    Both Democrats and Republicans should distance themselves from any association with the Tea Party. The Internet has provided disgruntled, angry and racist individuals a collective voice and they feel more empowered each day to speak hate for society's needy and "have-nots". In getting the nomination for Mr. Paul, the Tea Party shows its radical and racist bias.

    The biggest problem with the Tea Party is that they refuse to compromise their strict interpretation of the constitution. Without compromise, goverment remains polarized.

    As for Mr. Paul – If you say you are for civil rights legislation, but then remove the teeth from the legislation by allowing private business to ignore the law, you can expect racism to ramp up in America. Any other expectation is naive or is the desired result.

    May 23, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. bennie new york

    Rand Paul is a cheap knock-off of his father. The Tea Party says they are revolting against politics as usual, but nepotism fits that description pretty well. I guess so long as it's an ultraconservative numbskull like them it's OK.

    May 23, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    One week in the big leagues and Rand Paul is suffering from "exhaustion" and claiming "Liberal bias" in the media because people are asking him to explain video clips of him saying things?!?

    What a wimp!

    Rand Paul doesn't have the cojones to just say what everyone knows: He believes in business over people, and money trumps everything.

    How anyone could think this guy could be a Senator is beyond me ...

    May 23, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Matty K in NJ

    I hope Mr. Paul realizes that if he wins, he will be the big government that he has campained against. Plus, the Republicans have finally found a way to turn back the clock on civil rights without an actual time machine.

    May 23, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    To those defenders of Rand Paul who are posting here: You are the ones who are naive regarding Paul's argument for "smaller government."

    That's just code for completely de-regulating business, and never holding them accountable. Rand Paul believes in a dog-eat-dog world where social services are non-existent and if you don't happen to be born wealthy and white – TOUGH!

    May 23, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    If Paul can't handle MSM questions, perhaps he isn't ready to be a United States Senator.

    I watched the Paul interview with Maddow. He is a talking disaster. The views he represented on Maddow are the same views he has represented in other media over the years as well.

    Pawlenty wants change. I wonder if he is including the Tea Party? GOPers might want to be careful what they wish for.

    Having used the Tea Party to stir up anger against President Obama, the GOPers are now finding it isn't so easy throwing the T-Pers under the bus.

    May 23, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. jilli

    Rand Paul is just the gops latest train wreck. I imagine the one most disappointed is Sarah Palin, she's not getting the attention she needs. I expect a ridiculously outlandish "tweet" from palin any day now.

    Rand Paul is sarah palin with a medical degree. We're watching a real race to the bottom here.

    Discussing a candidates positions on the issues is the discussion that should take place. It's not out of hand, it's not playing "gotcha" – he needs to explain his philosophy on governments role

    If mr. paul can't defend his extreme positions, perhaps he's not suited to serve and should just go back to collecting his medicare subsidies. As the saying goes, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    May 23, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. Donnatella

    I am so glad this is on tape, because if you know Fox News they are probably going to try to say he never said that, to late, I hope Rachel shows it every night before the election as a reminder of what the people of Kentucky are really getting themselves into.

    May 23, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Paul was asked a yes or no questions which has nothing to do with him being a so-called "novist" candidate. If the GOP choses to continue to make excuses for Paul they will find themselves looking for excuses for themselves.

    May 23, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    Regarding Rand Paul's stance on the Civil Rights Act and asking him how he would have voted:

    I was born in 1960, and I've always known I would have voted for it! All it takes is a little decency and the ability to judge people based on the content of their character.

    Attributes that Mr. Paul seems to be sorely lacking ...

    May 23, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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