On the advice of Karl Rove, Rand Paul has been staying away from national interviews since his disastrous appearance on MSNBC last Wednesday, in which he suggested he opposed a key provision of the Civil Rights Act. But he hasn’t shut out local media. And in an interview with a Kentucky TV station Friday, the GOP Senate candidate continued his damage control campaign.
Paul downplayed his comments to Rachel Maddow, saying they were part of “a philosophic debate about a moot point.” But he also blasted MSNBC for “bias,” charging that in the days after his appearance, commentators on the network had inaccurately accused him of wanting to repeal the Civil Rights Act. (On Thursday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews corrected that error.) “I need to be very careful about going on certain networks that seem to have a bias,” Paul told WHS’s Joe Arnold. “Because it really wasn’t the interview so much that was unfair. The interview I think was very fair. But then they went on a whole day repeating something over and over again. It makes me less inclined to go on a network.”
Paul also seemed to be at pains to present himself as reconciled to the key programmatic elements of the Great Society. “To me, I look at government as not a utopian ideal that we can get to,” he said. “But I can have a philosophic discussion with you over utopian ideals. But when I look at it, I say, ‘How do we fix Medicare, how do we fix social security so another generation gets it?’ We’ve all paid into it. Its not a discussion over whether we’re having it or not having it, let’s try to fix it.”
He also walked back previous support for the idea of abolishing the Department of Education. Asked whether he still backed the notion, he replied: “No. I say what we do is take a multi-step look at every department. but you do look at everything across the board and say ‘what can we downsize? what can we privatize?’what can we eliminate?”
And he repeated his assurance — first made late last week — that he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act. “It’s a settled question,” he said. “I would have voted in totality for the Civil Rights Act because I think we had a real problem in the South that wasn’t being corrected.”
Referring to his comments to Maddow, he allowed: “I think sometimes we are imperfect people and we don’t always say what we mean.”
Paul reportedly ended the interview to take a call from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the GOP Senate leader who had backed Paul’s opponent in the Republican primary.