TPM News

Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who backed Rand Paul in his Senate primary, today refused to comment to Think Progress about Paul's critiques of the Civil Rights Act.

"I haven't seen the interview yet," DeMint said. "I'm gonna talk to Rand about his positions there before I talk to you."

DeMint also said that he supports the Civil Rights Act.

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Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) has some strong words for fellow Bluegrass State politician Rand Paul (R). Just a day after Paul handily won the Republican Senate nomination, Yarmuth said the tea party favorite has tarnished Kentucky's image with his highly publicized comments about the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"Rand Paul has already embarrassed Kentuckians in the eyes of the world," Yarmouth said in a statement. "The Commonwealth deserves better because we are better - and I call on Mitch McConnell and my other colleagues in the Kentucky Congressional Delegation to join me in condemning his despicable views."

Yarmouth called Paul's libertarian take on the landmark 1964 law -- Paul takes issue with portions of the legislation banning discrimination in private businesses -- "simply appalling."

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Sometimes a "no comment" tells you all you need to know. Such is the case with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who, as chairman of the NRSC, is responsible for getting Rand Paul--critic of the Civil Right's Act--a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Just off the Senate floor this afternoon, I asked Cornyn for his response to Paul's lengthy comments on MSNBC last night. He demurred: "I haven't heard it, so I'm really not in a position to comment."

I explained Paul's stated view that, while morally wrong, private businesses should be permitted by law to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, or disability. Once again, no comment.

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CNN.com published a story today on Rima Fakih, the Muslim Lebanese-American woman who was just crowned Miss USA, mentioning that some neocon bloggers (namely Debbie Schlussel) have called her a supporter of Hezbollah, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist organization.

The headline: "Miss USA: Muslim Trailblazer Or Hezbollah Spy?"

CNN changed the headline on its news blog to "Is Miss USA a Muslim Trailblazer?" They then removed the story from the news blog entirely, but it's still up on CNN's brand new religion blog with the original headline. The religion blog, called "Belief," was launched yesterday.

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Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who was defeated for renomination at his state Republican convention nearly two weeks ago, has announced that he will not try to hold on to office through a write-in campaign.

"I will not run a write-in campaign for the Senate race in Utah," said Bennett, who was successfully targeted for defeat at his party convention by the Club For Growth and the Tea Party movement, due to his having voted for the TARP bailout and having worked on a health care reform proposal with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Bennett was first elected to the Senate in 1992, and has served for three terms. When he lost at the state GOP convention earlier this month, Bennett became the first incumbent Senator to lose re-election in the 2010 cycle, followed this week by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in his Democratic primary. The eventual Republican nominee in this deep-red state will be determined in a June 22 primary between attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater, who both defeated Bennett for spots on the ballot under the Utah convention process.

Following intense media scrutiny on his views on the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s, Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul released a statement today "unequivocally" asserting that "I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Paul says he supports the Civil Rights Act "because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation." He stops short of saying he supports the law's mechanisms to force desegregation. And he concludes the statement this way, citing health care reform: "This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs."

Here it is in full, via Time:

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As we've all heard by now, Rand Paul has set off a firestorm by criticizing the Civil Rights Act for requiring private businesses not to practice racial discrimination, in response to questions last night from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

But Maddow's inquiry picked up on comments the Kentucky GOP Senate candidate originally made last month in an interview with the editorial board of Louisville's Courier-Journal. So it's worth taking a closer look at that interview. And in some ways, Paul's libertarian position comes off as both more radical and more fully-formed than it did last night.

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Swapping the Rachel Maddow Show set for perhaps more accepting digs this morning, Rand Paul told listeners of the Laura Ingraham radio show that the controversy surrounding his criticism of parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is political theater dreamed up by the "loony left."

Ben Smith tuned in to Ingraham's right wing radio show and reports on the host's interview with Paul:

"I've never really favored any change in the Civil Rights Act," Paul said, according to Smth. "They seem to have unleashed some of the loony left on me."

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Rand Paul's interview with NPR's All Things Considered last night was the first sign the the freshly-minted Kentucky Republican Senate nominee might have some explaining to do today. The blogosphere is already alight with Paul's interview with Rachel Maddow, but his interview on NPR shows that his libertarian views go deeper than just his take on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Speaking with NPR's Robert Siegel, Paul made the case for less federal involvement in workplace and environmental regulation, including his opposition to some components of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Based on the NPR interview, Paul's views seem to break down like this: a libertarian take on private freedom mixed with the tea party conservative-style frustration with the federal government. Rather than call for an end to all regulation of things like mining and energy production -- a view that would likely jive with hardcore libertarians -- Paul takes a tea party tack and calls for those things currently regulated by the federal government to be regulated by individual states instead.

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