Paul lashes out at MSNBC

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) lashed out at MSNBC on Wednesday, saying the cable network had repeatedly misrepresented his views on the Civil Rights Act.

Paul said he had "never been against" the voting rights legislation, and it had been a mistake to have a "philosophical discussion" on his views because his comments had been misrepresented.

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"The honest discussion of it would be that I was never opposed to the Civil Rights Act, and when your network does 24 hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion," Paul said in an interview on MSNBC.

Paul was appearing Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to talk about their proposal to reform some aspects of the criminal justice system. He was asked about comments he made during his first Senate campaign, when he said some parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were overly broad and burdened individual liberty. 

"To be fair to myself, because I like to be fair to myself, is that I've always been in favor of the Civil Rights Act," he said. "So people need to get over themselves writing all this stuff that I've changed my mind on the Civil Rights Act.

"Have I ever has a philosophical discussion of all aspects of it?" he continued. "Yeah, and I learned my lesson to come on MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion, the liberals will come out the woodwork and go crazy and say you are against the Civil Rights Act and you are some terrible racist."

Paul's comments during the 2010 campaign were heavily criticized.
 
During one interview at that time, Paul said he liked the Civil Rights Act because it ended discrimination, but "I don't like the idea of telling private business owners — I abhor racism. I think it's a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same time, I do believe in private ownership."
 
In another interview on MSNBC, he said private businesses should have the right to refuse service to black people, again saying he found the behavior abhorrent, but he did not want to limit their individual liberty or speech. 
 
The 1964 Civil Rights Act barred discrimination based on race at places of business.

On Wednesday, Paul said no one in Congress is "trying harder to get people back their voting rights, and make the criminal justice system fair."

"So I take great offense to people who want to portray me as something I'm not."

Paul has sponsored legislation that would give nonviolent felons the right to vote. Along with Booker, he sponsored legislation that would make it easier for adults and minors to get nonviolent crimes sealed from public record.  

— This story was updated at 9:30 a.m.

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