Days after winning a GOP senate primary, Rand Paul did his best Friday to clean up damage done by his wavering support for the Civil Rights Act. The Kentucky candidate told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “Democrat talking points” had “trashed” him and blamed MSNBC for accusing of him of wanting to repeal the law.
Paul made it clear in interviews on ABC and CNN that he does not support repealing the Civil Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act.
Meanwhile, many elected Republicans are declining to lend a hand to help.
Following Paul’s victory Tuesday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said Paul was “part of an American awakening that is taking place across the country.” But when questioned by Think Progress Thursday, DeMint had little positive to say about Paul.
“I’m going to talk to Rand about his positions,” said DeMint.
The highest ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Session (R-AL), thinks Paul’s comments are “wrong.”
“Things that welcome the public should welcome everybody,” said Sessions. “I think he’s wrong,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was careful not to express support of Paul, according to Roll Call.
In a statement, Don Stewart, spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), noted that his boss worked in the Senate as an intern in 1964 for Sen. John Sherman Cooper (Ky.), one of the key GOP supporters of the Civil Rights Act.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Among Sen. McConnell’s most vivid memories and most formative events in his career was watching his boss Sen. John Sherman Cooper help pull together the votes to break the filibuster and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He has always considered the law a monumental achievement for the country and is glad to hear Dr. Paul supports it as well,Ã¢â‚¬Â Stewart said.
At least one Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn (R-TX), was willing to offer a defense of Paul.
“Rand Paul has unequivocally stated that he does not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that he is deeply opposed to any and all forms of racism and segregation. Unfortunately, this appears to be another partisan attack fabricated by the Democrats in order to distract from the issues that Kentuckians care about, like Jack Conway’s support for the Democrats’ massive health care law,” said Cornyn.
Friday on ABC’s Good Morning America, Paul explained the situation by blaming Democrats and MSNBC.
“I’ve been trashed up and down one network that tends to side with the Democrats. For an entire 24 hours, I’ve suffered from them saying, ‘He wants to repeal the Civil rights Act.’ But that’s never been my position. So, really, this is a lot about politics. This is about, you know, look. We’re up 20 points in Kentucky. Democrats are going to have a tough time winning down here so they’re going to make up a lot of stuff and go forward with that,” he said.
This video is from ABC’s Good Morning America, broadcast May 21, 2010.