By Joseph Weber
Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul pushed back Thursday against what he called a “desperate” attempt to undermine his campaign by branding him a racist eager to turn back civil rights laws.
Mr. Paul, an eye surgeon, faced political controversy just days after a stunning win in the Kentucky Republican primary over media interviews he gave questioning portions of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act dealing with racial discrimination and the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.
“I abhor racial discrimination and … unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Mr. Paul said in a letter to voters. He said later in an interview on CNN that he would have voted for the 1964 bill.
But Democratic officials hammered Mr. Paul throughout the day over his comments, with some saying it provided a major opening for underdog Democratic challenger Jack Conway, the Kentucky attorney general, in this fall’s race.
In another race, the GOP dodged a bullet as Utah Sen. Robert F. Bennett, a Republican, said he would not seek a fourth term through a write-in candidacy, two weeks after state GOP leaders failed to endorse his re-election bid. There had been some speculation that Mr. Bennett might consider an independent campaign.
Though Mr. Paul attempted to clarify his position and perhaps end the controversy, he was unapologetic about saying the federal government has overstepped its limits, specifically with its recent decision to force Americans to buy health insurance.
“The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs,” said Mr. Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican.
“Tea party” activists, who strongly backed Mr. Paul, 47, in the GOP primary, said Thursday they were not surprised at the early negative attacks.
“They do the same thing every time,” said Shelby Blakely, executive director of the New Patriot Journal. “This week, it’s Rand Paul. They tried to do it to Sarah Palin when they were afraid of her.”
A Rasmussen Reports poll released this week gave Mr. Paul 59 percent of the vote, compared to 34 percent for Mr. Conway.
Mr. Paul routed Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the favorite of the Kentucky GOP establishment, on Tuesday. Still, Democratic political strategists say the GOP nominee will have to adjust his views for the general election in a state where registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans.
To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/21/kentuckys-paul-pushes-back-on-racism-charge/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_must-read-stories-today
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