In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Revising History, Rand Paul Flees His Past Positions Ahead Of 2016 Race

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AP Photo / Molly Riley

What's unusual is the way Paul is fleeing several controversial stances he held before political reality about his presidential ambitions set in: by seeking to write them out of history. The son of libertarian iconoclast Ron Paul appears to be more serious about the White House than his father, who seemed more interested in appealing to his cult following than a mainstream audience during his three presidential runs. Paul isn't merely saying his previously stated views have changed — he's insisting he never took those positions in the first place.

Take Israel. This week, as the death toll continued to rise in Israel's war with Hamas, Paul told Yahoo News that he never supporting phasing out U.S. aid to the Jewish state. "I haven't really proposed that in the past," he told reporter Chris Moody, adding: "[D]on't mischaracterize my position on Israel." On Wednesday he told CNN, "I haven't proposed targeting or eliminating any aid to Israel."

Only Paul has proposed just that. Within weeks of becoming a senator in 2011, Paul floated a budget plan which cut all foreign aid — including to Israel — and he questioned whether Republicans have the guts to do what's necessary to eliminate the deficit. "I'm not singling out Israel. I support Israel. I want to be known as a friend of Israel, but not with money you don't have," Paul told ABC News in Feb. 2011. "We can't just borrow from our kids' future and give it to countries — even if they are our friends."

Then there's the Civil Rights Act. Paul is now insisting he has always supported the landmark 1964 federal law. "The honest discussion of it would be that I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act," he said last week on MSNBC, suggesting that the cable network was lying about his views by suggesting otherwise.

The reality is less simple. During his 2010 Senate bid, Paul in multiple interviews cast doubt on a portion of the Civil Rights Act which forces private businesses to serve customers regardless of race. He emphasized that while he supports the vast majority of the act, and finds racism of any kind abhorrent, he doesn't want the federal government making those sorts of impositions on private actors.

"Should we limit racists from speaking?" he said in a famous 2010 interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn't mean we approve of it."

The Washington Post's fact checker didn't mince words, concluding: "Paul is rewriting history here."