May 20, 2010 / 6:49 PM / 10 years ago

Rand Paul causes stir with civil rights comment

Rand Paul gives his victory speech after winning the Senate Republican primary election in Bowling Green, Kentucky, at Bowling Green Country Club May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Jake Stevens

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A conservative who won the Republican Party nomination for U.S. senator in Kentucky tried on Thursday to repair the damage on Thursday from comments he made that suggested he did not fully support civil rights laws.

Rand Paul, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement who won the nomination on Tuesday, suggested in a Wednesday interview with MSNBC that he opposed part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed racial segregation.

He said he did not support a part of the law that made it a crime to discriminate on the basis of race.

Democrats jumped on the comment and sought to portray Paul, who will face a Democratic candidate in the November 2 election for the U.S. Senate seat from Kentucky, as out of the mainstream.

“Rand Paul is promoting a narrow and rigid ideology and has repeatedly rejected a fundamental provision of the Civil Rights Act,” said Jack Conway, the Democrat who will run against Paul.

Paul issued a statement that said he abhorred racial discrimination and backed the 46-year-old law.

“Even though this matter was settled when I was two, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” he said.

Republicans are seeking to make big gains against strong Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the November elections.

Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Chris Wilson

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