Still talking, Paul tries to move from defense to offense

05/21/2010 05:09 PM

Still responding to the a national media firestorm over his comments about the Civil Rights Act, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul has criticized “left-wing” networks and is now trying to avoid a Sunday appearance on Meet the Press.

Paul has been on the defensive — a rare position for him in this race, especially with the national media — since MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow challenged him Wednesday night over his position on the Civil Rights Act. Paul said he questioned the provision of the 1964 law that mandated desegregation in businesses because he said he is uncomfortable with governments telling private firms how to act.

But he he has maintained he wasn’t advocating for its repeal and told WLAP-630’s Leland Conway on Thursday that, had he been in the Senate at the time, he would have supported it.

He said his point about government regulations perhaps extending too far into private affairs has been distorted by MSNBC.

“What’s really the problem is you end up with a left-wing network that spent all day trashing me yesterday saying that I was for repeal of the civil rights act. Well that’s untrue,” he told Conway. “It’s never been my position. And they basically made this up and spent a whole day trashing me. And I think the reason why is that we’re 25 points up on their liberal protege here in Kentucky, and they don’t like it.”

Listen to the interview. [audio:|titles=Rand_Paul_response]

The saga has sent the national media outlets into a frenzy. After his Civil Rights Act comments, Paul garnered a whopping 188 mentions on MSNBC, 42 on CNN and 30 on Fox News just over the last 36 hours, according to TV Eyes media monitoring.

Paul harnessed the power of national cable media during his primary win over Trey Grayson. He appeared often on Fox News. In fact the liberal organization Media Matters tracked Paul’s appearances on the channel: 21 interviews between May 2009 and Tuesday’s election.

David Adams, Paul’s campaign manager, said that this week’s flap likely won’t change Paul’s approach to the national press.

“I’m not sure that it will,” he said.

But a half-hour after telling that to cn|2 Politics, Betsy Fischer, executive producer for NBC’s Meet the Press tweeted that Paul was trying to avoid an appearance on the show Sunday.

“Friday drama here @DrRandPaul having a tough week. Now trying to cancel big #MTP interview for Sunday that he committed to on Wednesday,” Fischer tweeted Friday afternoon.

Rand Paul (R) and Atty. Gen. Jack Conway (D)

Throughout the day, Paul tried to change the main subject of the three-day-old general election campaign against Democrat Jack Conway.

He criticized Democratic President Barack Obama as “un-American” for his response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Paul’s campaign also dispatched a press release slamming Conway on his support of the health care bill Congress passed and for not denouncing the cap-and-trade legislation under consideration.

Conway’s campaign issued an e-mail to supporters seeking to raise money after Paul’s Civil Rights Act comments.

“You and I both know Rand Paul is out-of-touch with most Kentuckians,” said Conway’s campaign manager Jonathan Drobis. “His worldview is so narrow and outside of the mainstream, he opposes even the most fundamental protections for citizens. As Jack said — it’s up to us to stop him.”

- Ryan Alessi


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