Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has a very straightforward answer on who is the biggest defender of minority rights in the United States Congress: himself.
“I don’t think there has been anybody who has been a bigger defender of minority rights in the Congress than myself, and that’s not saying others aren’t trying as well,” Paul said an in interview with Salon. “But I think you can see a history and a litany of bills that I’ve put forward to not only restore voting rights, but to try to prevent people from the tragedy of losing their employability through felony convictions and other things.”
Those comments prompted a few tweets about how civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) is still in Congress.
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) November 20, 2014
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) November 20, 2014
Paul’s answer came in response to a question about his ties to a former aide who spent a number of years as a radio shock jock personality who often expressed pro-secessionist and neo-Confederate views. Salon also pointed out that there are numerous instances of Paul expressing opposition to the Civil Rights Act. On the Rachel Maddow Show in 2010 he said he was opposed to parts of the law that required private businesses to accommodate everyone. He later denied that he’s been against the Civil Rights Act.
Paul has been making moves that point to running for president in 2016. A big part of that has been outreach to the African American community. He recently traveled to Michigan where he’s encouraged local Republicans to embrace policies that are meant to indicate they care about urban Detroiters.