Paul defends visit to Howard
April 17th, 2013
12:39 PM ET
8 years ago

Paul defends visit to Howard

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky acknowledged he made some mistakes during his speech at the historically black Howard University last week but largely defended his appearance, the first by a major Republican in nearly two decades.

At a Washington breakfast with reporters Wednesday, Paul said he was unfairly criticized by what he described as left-wing media, who argued the senator wrongly portrayed the history of African Americans switching to the Democratic Party.

In his speech last week, Paul said the transition happened during the Great Depression in the 1930s, arguing that African Americans left the GOP because they were struggling financially and weren't getting the "economic emancipation" they wanted from Republicans.

Paul visited the university in an attempt to change what he described as inaccurate perceptions of the GOP being racist.

"There's a perception that Republicans don't like people of color. They don't like black people, brown people or people of different colored skin. It's not true, but that's the perception we have to overcome. And the only way to overcome that is by showing up and saying over and over again it is not true," he said Wednesday at the breakfast, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

His visit to the university came weeks after the GOP rolled out its plan to better connect with minority voters, including African Americans. The Republican National Committee will spend $10 million on staff members to communicate conservative principles in cities across the country, one of the many decisions it made following the party's major loss among minority voters in the presidential election.

Critics, however, blasted Paul last week for not talking about the so-called Southern Strategy, a tactic used by the GOP in the 60s and 70s to win over longtime Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights movement.

Paul argued Wednesday the Southern Strategy "cemented" the demographic change that had already taken place among African Americans. He also didn't bring it up, he said, because he didn't go to Howard to mention "the things that don't make us look so good in the Republican Party."

While the first-term senator considered his reception at the speech "very good," he got many negative reviews from students at the event.

"It wasn't an easy audience, but it was the beginning of a conversation," he said at the breakfast.
One student, however, praised Paul just for simply showing up.

"I think Rand Paul won everyone in the room over when he made the announcement that he was going to come and speak to Howard University students because we know throughout the years, the Republican Party has blatantly ignored and disrespected the African American community," Julian K. Lewis, a senior, told CNN's Jake Tapper. Lewis, though, acknowledged he largely disagreed with Paul's viewpoints.

Critics also hit Paul for fumbling to recall the name of former Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, the first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote.

"Well I'm human. I forgot his name. I knew his name, but I forgot it. It wasn't like it was part of my speech and I forgot it," he said. "It was in an answer."

And he was criticized for asking the audience if they were aware the founders of the NAACP were Republicans. They audience loudly responded "yes."
Paul said Wednesday he was unfairly mocked for being presumptuous and argued the public at large probably doesn't know that part of history, which is why he was asking last week.

"In retrospect it sounds like it is a dumb question, but Republicans haven't been going to Howard for 20 years, and by going there, I did learn something-I learned that everyone there knows," he said.
Paul said he'll continue to make such outreach visits and pointed to his visit to the historically black Simmons College last week in Kentucky.

I'll keep trying. I don't give up easily," he said. "I'll keep trying."

Filed under: Rand Paul
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Warren

    dumb question coming from Paul, now that's new LOL

    April 17, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. just sayin

    more of the leftists in this country trying to shutdown free speech and rewrite history. the racist history of the democrat party needs to be told and not rewritten.

    April 17, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. ghostriter

    Just saying.....of course it does....but should we skip over what the republicans have done post 1960's with the Southern Strategy? Clearly, you are not concerned with the racial issues. Only with getting back at the evil leftists.

    Tell Bill Bennet I said hi....

    April 17, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    And he was criticized for asking the audience if they were aware the founders of the NAACP were Republicans. They audience loudly responded "yes."
    Well now that Kentucky Paul knows black people know the history of the republican party, (wink, wink) maybe he can move on to some serious questions about why he supports discrimination. Take all the time you want Rand-we'll wait for you.

    April 17, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    You can keep trying and continue to fail. The "Southern Strategy" is still being used in today's politics by members of your party and you haven't called any of your colleagues out on it Rand. I guess being called the "Food Stamp President" or questioning the President's place of birth isn't offensive to African Americans huh? Go sit down somewhere Rand.

    April 17, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    This guy is full of HIMSELF.

    April 17, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. rs

    just sayin

    more of the leftists in this country trying to shutdown free speech and rewrite history. the racist history of the democrat party needs to be told and not rewritten
    Lincoln and the Republicans freed the slaves. They have been working hard ever since to re-enslave the poor to their corporate masters. They fight unions, the fight against labor regulations, and do all they can to hold corporations and industries (like weapon, and oil) harmless from the damage they do with special legislation.
    The GOP does nothing for the working class- that's the truth.

    April 17, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Doc1

    I don't like this guy, but I have to give him some credit for trying.

    April 17, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. JeffersonLives

    Dr. Paul only told the truth about the Democrat Party's history of extreme racism. Most people who know history understand this, but todays Libs want to rewrite history. I think the good Dr. going out there to speak was a sincere and genuine act to reach out to a voting block that has been routinely lied to and brainwashed by the racist democratic party and liberal biased media. Good for him, he sure is seeming more and more Presidential with every action.

    April 17, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein

    I think that Paul is naive. He seems to think that everyone is going to accept everyone else. He should know that isn't true. If we were all like Vulcans and suppress our emotions, logically we'd all accept everyone and see who did the best job. That isn't the case here or in many places around the world.

    April 17, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Greg Smith

    Just saying it's not true does not change the fact that the GOP has acted in a way that shows that they don't like people of color. Change the way you act, don't just spew words.

    April 17, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. norma jean

    Following in the footsteps of so many other Repuiblicans.....Rand Paul is putting his foot in his mouth and making a fool of himself. If he plans a bigger future in the political scene...he'd better be a lot more circumspect .

    April 17, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. TomInRochNY

    More of the rightists in this country trying to shutdown free speech and rewrite history. the racist present of the republican party needs to be told and not rewritten.

    April 17, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. much thunder..little rain

    democrats have the joe mccarthy game plan...from gun control to gay marriage ..if you disagree your a homofobe or gun nut...paul just said how he believes..

    April 17, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. rla

    Great the great progressives who shout down anyone who disgrees with them,promotes diversity but can't stand anyone who has the guts to stand up and actually speak a diverse view point and refute all the liberal lies about the GOP and conservatives.... Blacks take a look around and you may discover the enemy is you!

    April 17, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Donna

    Democrats and the left will attack Paul and distort everything he says, no matter what he says. The hate filled left shows their lack of tolerance and diversity every day. Either march 100% to the leftist drummer or be endlessly attacked. This especially applies to conservative blacks and hispanics, which the left reserves extra hatred for.

    April 17, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. wwf

    A book by Andy Andrews "How Do You Kill 11 Million People?" The answer? Lie to them over and over and over until they believe it. Think about what Mr. Paul just Said.

    April 17, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. Homer Simpson

    Sayin, wow do you struggle with the truth or what, your one shameless individual.republicans arenot racist, is that what you want people to believe? really? do you believe that, of course not

    April 17, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. Marie MD

    Perception? LOL
    Unfairly critized? Didn't you say that private ownership of a business means that you can discriminate as to who YIU allow in your establishment? You would have marched with MLK but voted with Goldwater against the 1964 civil right acts or that a restaurant or club should NOT serve Blacks or gays or women (and in your case women since your thugs like to beat them up). Then you said on CNN that you would have voted for the CRA!! What is it you fool? Yes or no? Black or white?
    Once again another rethug blowing in the wind with his nonsense!!! Even the students at Howard knew what rethugs had done regarding civil rights and you were thrown for a loop. You thought you would go there to "teach and lie" to the kids but they beat you at your own game.

    April 17, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. chill

    I can recall that in the early 60s a lot of African Americans were registered Republicans based on it being the Party of Lincoln and the antipathy for the Southern Democratic racists. For that matter, not a lot of union voters were particularly open to blacks. It was in large part the Great soicety and Voting Rights Act under Johnson and admiriation for Bobby Kennedy that began the shift, punctuated by Nixon's Southern Strategy. Of course today, Nixon would be viewed as a flaming liberal.

    April 17, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. kayla

    there we go again, somebody trying to be relevant. the train already passed guys. get over it.

    April 17, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |

    Just sayin? What about the perpetual racism from the Republican party? Rebpublicans TRY to rewrite that EVERYDAY. Even your darling Sarah Palin tried to say Paul Revere was warning the British. How blatantly dumb? In the last 2 presidental elections I've seen numerouse posters and billboards in African American communities stating that Martin Luther King was a republican. He was. So was the guy that killed him.

    April 17, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    In regards to the Civil Rights Act, this is Sen. Paul's true position:

    Rachel Maddow: "Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?"

    Candidate Paul: "Yes."

    April 17, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Peoples State of Illinois

    It is hard for Democrats to call terror what it is, because they share the same goals.

    April 17, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Homer Simpson

    So, lie, and lie again? man these guys dont realize how insulting they truly are, again with the, they not understanding our message, i think the problem is they do understand

    April 17, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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