Paul's office clarifies voter ID remarks

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continues to believe voter identification laws should be left up to individual states, an adviser to the senator said Monday. 

Paul's senior adviser, Doug Stafford, downplayed remarks Paul made Friday when he advised Republicans not to go "too crazy" about voter identification laws because they are "offending people." 

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Stafford signaled that Paul's comments to The New York Times did not mark a change in view and said it is a point he has made many times before. 

"In the course of that discussion, he reiterated a point he has made before that while there may be some instances of voter fraud, it should not be a defining issue of the Republican Party, as it is an issue that is perhaps perceived in a way it is not intended,” Stafford said in a statement Monday. “In terms of the specifics of voter ID laws, Senator Paul believes it's up to each state to decide that type of issue.” 

Stafford said Paul made the comments while having a larger discussion about restoring voting rights to felons and reforms to the criminal justice system. 

On Friday, Paul said “Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing. I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people,” African Americans in particular. He also pointed to his support for the restoration of voting rights for felons in his home state. 

During his time in the Senate, Paul — a potential 2016 candidate for president — has continuously called for the GOP to expand its base. In the past, Paul has said it is a mistake for Republicans to put such an emphasis on voter identification laws, but usually in a milder language than Friday.  

During an interview at the University of Chicago with David Axelrod last month, he said, "I think it is a mistake to have emphasized it so much. In fact, I have done the opposite," touting his effort to restore voting rights to felons in his home state. 

At that time, Paul said the attempt to limit early voting hours is a mistake on the part of Republicans but said voter identification laws continue to serve a purpose. 

Paul has acknowledged some voter fraud exists but that "Republicans may have overemphasized this. I don't know."