Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul’s decision to cancel his planned appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press didn’t stop him from being the dominating topic of discussion on just about every Sunday morning news show.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele offered the sternest comments of any Republican about Paul’s recent controversial statements concerning the nation’s anti-discrimination laws. “Rand Paul’s philosophy got in the way of reality,” he said on Fox News Sunday.
Paul triggered a firestorm of criticism and questions when he said in recent media interviews that private businesses should be able to decide whether they want to serve minorities, even though he abhors racism and discrimination. He also said President Obama sounded “un-American” for criticizing BP for the Gulf Coast oil spill and that “sometimes accidents happen” when discussing the recent coal mine fatalities.
Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Steele said he was uncomfortable with Paul’s criticisms of the 1964 Civil Rights Act but declined to condemn them.
“I think it’s important to understand that Rand Paul has clarified his statement and reiterated his support for … pushing civil rights forward, as opposed to going backwards,” Steele said on This Week.
On NBC, Meet the Press host David Gregory suggested that Paul, an eye surgeon from Bowling Green, may have found the national spotlight “a little too hot” over the past week.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on Meet the Press that first-time candidates such as Paul occasionally “stumble.”
“I think he’s clarified his position,” Cornyn said, noting that he believes Paul’s decision to avoid the show was wise.
Gregory then went on to press Cornyn about whether he agrees with Paul’s libertarian view that embraces limited government, even if it means tolerating racists. “I don’t know what all his views are,” Cornyn responded.
Gregory dismissed that response and asked the question again. Cornyn eventually noted that Paul clarified his stance on anti-discrimination laws and made clear that he supports the 1964 Civil Rights Act and would not try to repeal portions of it.
Cornyn agreed that much of the next five months leading up to the Nov. 2 general election will be spent discussing Paul’s views on the proper size and scope of government, particularly government spending.
Paul was only the third major guest to cancel an appearance on the long-running show. The others were Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia.
- John Stamper