A Democratic congressman from Kentucky ripped Senate candidate Rand Paul (R) Thursday for giving a noncommittal answer on whether or not he endorses the Civil Rights Act.

Paul said on MSNBC Wednesday night that he believes the legislation improperly failed to distinguish between private businesses and their ability to discriminate based on race. Paul, the son of libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), said that he does not endorse discrimination, but questioned the government's role in desegregation.

"If you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here,' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each other,'" he said. "Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?"

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), whose district contains Lousiville, said in a statement that Paul is unfit for office.

“The comments by Senate candidate Rand Paul opposing the Civil Rights Act are simply appalling, and make it abundantly clear that he has no place holding public office in Kentucky in the 21st century," he said. "Rand Paul has already embarrassed Kentuckians in the eyes of the world. 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."

Paul released a statement Thursday saying he does not favor repealing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Cross-posted from the Briefing Room