Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says that an aide who believes in secession and has a history of wearing Confederate flag masks should be forgiven because he is "incredibly talented" and his mistakes are similar to using marijuana.
Earlier this week, The Washington Free beacon revealed that 39-year-old Paul aide, Jack Hunter -- who was known on his South Carolina radio show as the "Southern Avenger" -- was previously the chairman of the League of the South, which the Anti-Defamation League has called "an implicitly racist group."
As a part of his "Southern Avenger" persona, Hunter often wore a Confederate flag mask and advocated for "the states of the old Confederacy to break away from the rest of the Union."
Hunter also had praised John Wilkes Booth for the assassination of former President Abraham Lincoln, saying that his "heart was in the right place."
In an interview with The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman this week, Paul stood behind Hunter while distancing himself from some of his rhetoric.
"I'm not a fan of secession," Paul explained. "I think the things he said about John Wilkes Booth are absolutely stupid. I think Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents. Do I think Lincoln was wrong is taking away the freedom of the press and the right of habeas corpus? Yeah."
"If I thought he was a white supremacist, he would be fired immediately," he added. "If I thought he would treat anybody on the color of their skin different than others, I’d fire him immediately."
When Fineman asked about the Confederate flag mask, Paul compared it to smoking pot.
"It was a shock radio job," the Kentucky Republican opined. "He was doing wet T-shirt contests. But can a guy not have a youth and stuff? People try to say I smoked pot one time, and I wasn't fit for office."
"Are we at a point where nobody can have had a youth or said anything untoward?"