Rand Paul Rips George Stephanopoulos: Your Talking Points Come from MSNBC, DNC

Senatorial candidate Rand Paul appeared on Friday's Good Morning America and aggressively fought back against former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos. The ABC host repeatedly touted liberal spin, prompting the Republican to mock, "Where do your talking points come from? The Democrat National Committee. They also come from Rachel Maddow and MSNBC." [Audio available here.]

Paul appeared in the wake of his guest spot on MSNBC, Wednesday. There, host Rachel Maddow interrogated him about the 1964 Civil rights Act and whether his libertarian leanings would lead the Kentuckian to tolerate bigotry. Stephanopoulos, playing the role of opposition Democratic researcher, quizzed Paul on that, whether he opposes the Fair Housing Act, supports overturning the minimum wage and abolishing the EPA.

After reading from an old Paul quote on housing accommodations, Stephanopoulos pressed, "So, if you feel someone doesn't want to sell their house to someone, based on the color of their skin, that's okay?" The politician first laughed and then retorted, "Well, [the quotes] really come up in the context of the Democrat talking points. For example, I've been trashed up and down one network that tends to side with the Democrats."

Paul's reference to being "trashed" was directed towards MSNBC. As first reported on NewsBusters, the cable network devoted eight segments totaling 37 minutes to the subject on Thursday.

Every question from Stephanopoulos could have been taken straight from a researcher at the DNC. And while journalists should be tough on politicians, GMA and Stephanopoulos have not been so eager to pull old quotes from Democrats such as Barack Obama and demand they respond to them.

Instead, ABC used the opportunity to link Paul to bigotry. In an introductory piece just prior to the segment, reporter Jon Karl critiqued, "The controversy has revived suggestions by Tea Party critics that there are racists in the movement."

At one point during the contentious interview, the senatorial nominee sarcastically wondered, "When does my honeymoon period start? I had a big victory. I thought I got a honeymoon from you guys in the media." 

A transcript of the May 21 segment, which aired at 7:35am EDT, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And Senate candidate, Dr. Rand Paul joins us now. Thank you for joining us again, Dr. Paul. And let's get right to it. On the Civil Rights Act, you say now. I wouldn't repeal it. I wouldn't voted for it. I'm against discrimination. But it comes against the background of similar views you have expressed in the past. I want to talk about the Fair Housing Act, which prevents discrimination in selling or renting of houses. You wrote in your local paper, that the Fair Housing act doesn't recognize the distinction between private and public property. "Should discrimination be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual's beliefs or attributes? Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities, such as a church, a bed and breakfast, a retirement neighborhood that doesn't want noisy children? Absolutely not." And you went on to write that a "free society will abide unofficial private discrimination, even when that means allows hate-filled group, to exclude people on the based color of their skin." So, if you feel someone doesn't want to sell their house to someone, based on the color of their skin, that's okay?

RAND PAUL: Good morning, George. Good morning, Robin. When does my honeymoon period start? I had a big victory. I thought I got a honeymoon from you guys in the media.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Uh, well, you know, we're asking questions that come in the context of this campaign. And, sir-

PAUL [Laughs]: Well, they really come up in the context of the Democrat talking points. For example, I've been trashed up and down one network that tends to side with the Democrats. For an entire 24 hours I've suffered from them saying, "Oh, he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act." But, that's never been my position. So, really, this is a lot about politics. This is about, you know, look. We're up 20 points in Kentucky. Democrats are going to have a tough time winning down here. So, they're going to make up a lot of stuff and go forward with that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I just showed your own words up on the screen. I'm just asking if you still believe them.

PAUL: Right. What I say is that I'm against repealing the Civil Rights Act. I'm against repealing the Fair Housing Act. I've never campaigned on that. It's not part of our platform. And so, what these are red herrings that people are trying to bring up because the Democrats are way behind in Kentucky and are going to have a tough time beating us down here. You know, I mean, if you want to bring up 40-year-old legislation, why don't you bring me on with Senator Byrd. And we'll talk about how he filibustered the Civil Rights Act. You know, make him, call him to task for something he actually did, as opposed to calling me to task for something that they insinuate that I might believe that is not true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, I haven't insinuated anything. I'm reading from a May 30th, 2002, Letter you wrote to your local newspaper, The Bowling Green Daily News where you said-

PAUL: Right and I just answered you, George. Yeah, but I just answered you, George and said I don't believe in repealing the Fair Housing Act. So, the thing is, what's going on here is an attempt to vilify us for partisan reasons. Where do your talking points come from? The Democrat National Committee. They also come from Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. You know, I've just been trashed up and down. And they're saying things that are untrue. And when they say I'm for repealing the Civil Rights Act, it's absolutely false. Never been my position. And something I think is basically just politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I haven't said that. I'm reading from The Bowling Green Daily News.

PAUL: I know and I've answered you. I've answered you that I'm not for repealing the Fair Housing Act.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on. Got it. Fox Business Network, January 2nd, 2010. You talk about government regulations and what you think should happen with government regulations. Take a look.

[clip]

PAUL: Get rid of regulations. Get the EPA out of our coal business down here. Get OSHA out of our small businesses. We need to restrain government to let small businesses and business men and women create jobs.

[clip ends]

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, I want to see how far you would push that belief. You know, the front page of The USA Today this morning, we've been talking about it. "EPA Tells BP to Use Less Toxic Chemicals." Do you believe the EPA should not be allowed to tell companies they cannot use chemicals to enforce safety regulations on the rig out there?

PAUL: No. What I was referring to with the EPA is I find it particularly galling that the EPA puts out a press release and says that if Congress doesn't do anything about greenhouse emissions, that they will. I think that's a regulatory commission run amok. And I think we need congressional oversight. I don't think regulatory agencies should write regulations without approval of the people through their representatives. And I stick to that. And that's absolutely my point of view.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you don't want to get rid of the EPA?

PAUL: No. The thing is, that the drilling right now and the problem we're having right now is in international waters. I think there needs to be regulation of that. It always has been. I think there's hundreds of pages of regulation. What I don't like from the President's administration is this sort of, you know, "I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP" I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that, it's always got to be someone's fault. Instead of the fact that, maybe, accidents happen. I mean, we had a mining accident. And I've met the miners and their families. They're very brave people to do a dangerous job. But, then, we come in and it's always someone's fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you believe the regulation of BP was adequate?

PAUL: I don't know what the regulation of BP is. I think there's hundreds of pages of regulation of drilling in the ocean. And I think most of that's justified. I think we'll have to figure out from this accident, is there anything that could have been done to prevent it? What can we do in the future to make sure it doesn't happen again? So, I think we use logic. We use objective facts. And yeah, we try to go forward. Nobody wants this to happen. I love the beautiful beaches down in the panhandle of Florida. And nobody wants to see oil washing up on the white sand beaches.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should the federal government be able to set a minimum wage?

PAUL: Repeat that one more time. We had a little bit of an echo.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should the federal government be able to set a minimum wage?

PAUL: It's not a question of whether they can or cannot. I think that's decided. I think the question you have to ask is whether or not, when you set the minimum wage it may cause unemployment. You know, those who are at the lowest wages, if you raise the wage to a certain rate, if it's above what the employer deems that their labor is worth, they won't get hired. So, the least-skilled people in our society have trouble getting jobs, the higher you make the minimum wage. And it's one of those things where you see on the surface. You say, "Oh. All these workers at McDonald's got raised 50 cents an hour." But there were 21 workers. And now, there's 15 workers if you raise the minimum wage too high. You know, if it were a good idea to raise the minimum wage and it worked, why don't we raise it to $20 an hour? Or $30 an hour? Obviously, there is a point where you get to that you cause unemployment. And I'm not sure the government's always the smartest in the world as far as economic decisions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you wouldn't repeal it?

PAUL: Repeal the minimum wage? No. I think the vote comes up a lot of times to raise it or not. And I think what you have to ask yourself is, do you create unemployment by raising the minimum wage too high? But, I think it's a good example of how people with good intentions- You know, many Democrats say, we want to help people. They have good intentions. And I take them at their word that they want to do what's best for people. But what happens is, they don't think through the ultimate consequences of it. It's sort of like all of the things we're doing, by having such a massive debt in our country, they're doing it with good intentions. But what's happening now, is we are in danger, as a country, of going the way of Greece if we're not careful. Moody's has talked about knocking our AAA rating down to AA. So, I mean, we have to watch what's going on and begin to reform our spending or we're in a world of hurt as a country.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org