May 21, 2010

As Josh Marshall at TPM noted:

They used to say that folks evolved once they got on the Supreme Court. But I'm not sure we've ever seen the kind of evolution Rand Paul's undergone over less than 24 hours.

Let me try to summarize.

1) I don't support the Civil Rights Act but I personally abhor discrimination.

2) I would not support any effort to repeal the Civil Rights Act.

3) I believe in the Civil Rights Act and the constitutional power to enforce it.

4) If I would have been in the Senate at the time I would have voted for the Civil Rights Act.

Any guesses on number 5?

Probably his remarks here to Blitzer that he still isn't so sure about how he would have voted on the Americans With Disabilities Act. And as Jed pointed out over at KOS, apparently Paul doesn't even know what's in the law he objects to:

Rand Paul, explaining to Wolf Blitzer why he objects to the Americans with Disabilities Act:

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 hundred thousand dollar elevator?

Sounds reasonable, right? In fact, it's so reasonable that the ADA contains an exception for that very situation.

Elevators are not required in:

(a) private facilities that are less than three stories or that have less than 3000 square feet per story unless the building is a shopping center, a shopping mall, or the professional office of a health care provider, or another type of facility as determined by the Attorney General; or

(b) public facilities that are less than three stories and that are not open to the general public if the story above or below the accessible ground floor houses no more than five persons and is less than 500 square feet. Examples may include, but are not limited to, drawbridge towers and boat traffic towers, lock and dam control stations, and train dispatching towers.

So Rand Paul opposes a law because he believes it imposes a mandate that it does not in fact impose. What an idiot.

No argument there. Rand Paul looked like he was sucking on a lemon during this interview, so I assume he wasn't too happy to be there. He'd better get used to it since this campaign is just getting started.

And as Dave Weigel pointed out, he doesn't like the Fair Housing Act so much either: Rand Paul in '02: I may not like it, but 'a free society' will allow 'hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin':

Here's another wrinkle in the controversy over U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul's arguments, made Wednesday to NPR and Rachel Maddow, over whether the Civil Rights Act was necessary to prevent discrimination.

In a May 30, 2002, letter to the Bowling Green Daily News, Paul's hometown newspaper, he criticized the paper for endorsing the Fair Housing Act, and explained that "a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin."

Nice work Kentucky Republicans.

Transcript via CNN below the fold.

BLITZER: Two days after winning the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, the darling of the tea party movement, Rand Paul, is coming under some fire. Critics are seizing on remarks he made about the civil rights act of 1964, and his Democratic opponent is accusing Rand Paul of promoting what he calls a narrow and rigid ideology with dangerous consequences. Joining us now is the Republican Senate candidate from Kentucky, Rand Paul. Dr. Paul, thanks very much for coming in.

RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I want to give you a chance to explain because there's a lot of confusion right now about precisely where you stand. I'll ask you a simple question. If you had been a member of the Senate or the house back in 1964, would you have voted yea or nay for the civil rights act?

PAUL: Yes, I would have voted yes.

BLITZER: So, why is there all this confusion emerging right now? Give me your analysis, because you had to issue a statement today. There've been interviews on NPR yesterday and MSNBC. Tell us what's going on.

PAUL: Well, first of all, Wolf, I thought I was supposed to get a honeymoon. When does my honeymoon start, you know, after my victory?

BLITZER: No such thing in politics, Dr. Paul.

PAUL: No such thing, I think you're right. I think what troubles me is that the news cycle's gotten out of control. I mean, for several hours on a major news network yesterday, they reported repeatedly that I was for repealing the civil rights act. That is not only not true, never been my position, but is an out and out lie. They repeated it all day long. It started with my Democrat opponent asserting this but has never been my position.

BLITZER: You support that -- because the argument was -- the argument was made that you support the civil rights act in terms of federal -- in terms of government responsibilities. There should be no racism or segregation, but if there's a private club or a restaurant where they don't want to serve African-Americans as abhorrent as that is, you think that they have -- you suggested, correct me if I'm wrong, they would have a right to do that?

PAUL: What I did suggest was that it was a stain on the history of the south and our country that you know we desegregated in 1840 in Boston. William Lloyd Garrison was up there with Frederick Douglas being thrown off trains and going through what happened in 1840 in Boston. So, I think it is a stain on our history and something that I am sad for and something that if I had been alive at the time, I would hope that I would have been there marching with Martin Luther King.

One of our biggest county coordinators was there with Martin Luther King, attended the rallies in D.C., and considers himself to be a civil rights activist, and he takes it as a personal insult that people will say that our movement doesn't believe in civil rights.

BLITZER: But I just want to be precise on this, Dr. Paul. I want to be precise, did Woolworth Department Store have a right at their lunch counters to segregate blacks and whites?

PAUL: I think that there was an overriding problem in the south, so big that it did require federal intervention in the 1960s, and it stemmed from things that I said, you know, have been going on really 120 years too long, and the southern states weren't correcting it, and I think there was a need for federal intervention.

BLITZER: All right. So, you clarified you would have voted yea, you would have voted yes, in favor of the 1964 civil rights act.

PAUL: Yes.

BLITZER: Would you also have voted for the Americans with disabilities act?

PAUL: Well, I have some questions about it. I mean, the one question that comes to mind -- to my thinking is, 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 that sounds like common sense that you should be allowed maybe to give them a first floor office. I think, sometimes, when we have a federal solution, we make it one size fits all and that we recognize the problem which I do all of someone who's handicapped, but then, we don't take any consideration at all the business owner or the property owner. So, I think it's a balancing act and I'd have to look at that legislation to see how they balanced it, but my understanding is that small business owners were often forced to put in elevators, and I think you ought to at least be given a choice can you provide an opportunity without maybe having to pay for an elevator?

BLITZER: So, the answer is you don't know for sure if you would have voted yes or no on that Americans for disabilities act?

PAUL: Yes. I mean, I'd have to look at it and see. I think you do have -- it's a balancing act. And I am in favor of trying to have the workplace open. My office is open to the handicapped. We try very hard, but, you know, it's been open to the handicapped for decades, so, you know, it doesn't always take government for people to do the right thing. Sometimes, government has to step in extraordinary circumstances, but I think a lot of times that the -- the private world can step up and do the right things or we can find local solutions over federal solutions, so it's not always whether you oppose something.

It's about where the solution should arrive, whether it arrives at the federal government or the local government. I do think, though, that there is a big civil rights issue out there. I think the Democrats avoid it, and that's school choice. I think the biggest thing holding down our inner city communities is a lack of good education, and I say give them a choice. Let them choose to go to a school anywhere in the city or outside the city, and so I think school choice is the civil rights issue of our era, and many people are saying that.

BLITZER: I want you to have a chance to differentiate, if you want to differentiate, with your dad. I've interviewed Congressman Ron Paul on many occasions, and we've gone through all of these issues. He's a principled libertarian, as you well know. First of all, are you as principled a libertarian from your perspective as your dad?

PAUL: Some will say not. I call myself a constitutional conservative, which means that I believe that the constitution does restrict and restrain the federal government, and we should be doing a lot less than what we're doing, and if we did so, I think we would balance the budget, and we would have more local and state control.

BLITZER: All right.

PAUL: So, we'll agree on a lot of issues, and we'll disagree on some, and there may be some nuance. But I would say, you know, he will probably still be the number one libertarian in the country. I'm probably not going to supplant him there.

BLITZER: You're not going to be able to compete because there are four votes, and I've discussed this with him, himself, in which the vote was 425-1, 421-1, 424-1, for example, asking Arab states to acknowledge genocide in Darfur, asking Vietnam to release a political prisoner, condemning the Zimbabwe government, awarding a gold medal to Rosa Parks, your dad was the only member on the Democratic and the Republican side to vote against that because he's a principled libertarian. He doesn't want the U.S. government involved in any of these issues. Are you the same as him?

PAUL: Probably not. And the thing is, is that he is incredibly principled, and I admire him for the stands he's taken. Interestingly, some of those things, it sounds like how could anybody be against that? The reason he votes against it a lot of times is not that he disagrees with the position. Often, he'll agree with the position of the resolution, but just think that the government really shouldn't be making a statement on some of these things.

I think it's yet to be seen how I'll vote on resolutions, non- binding resolutions, but I'm probably not going to be the great path breaker that he is. But I think he stands on principle, and I think he's well respected because he doesn't compromise his principles.

BLITZER: We're going to continue this conversation. I'm hoping on many occasions, Dr. Paul. Thanks very much for coming in. Glad you had a chance --

PAUL: Thank you.

BLITZER: To explain your positions precisely. These are, as you well know, as a novice politician, among the most sensitive issues out there.

PAUL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Dr. Rand Paul is the Republican senatorial candidate from Kentucky.

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