The White House on Thursday weighed in on controversial comments by Kentucky Republican Senate Candidate Rand Paul, who made headlines after his position on civil rights and racism came into question during a television appearance Wednesday evening.
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow one day after his primary victory, Paul was asked about comments he made last month to the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal in which he told reporters he liked that the 1964 Civil Rights Act ended discrimination, but implied that he believed it should not apply to private business owners.
Maddow on Wednesday specifically asked Paul whether he thinks private business owners have the right to refuse service to black people.
"Yes. I`m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race," Paul responded. "What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that`s one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn`t mean we approve of it."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked to respond to Paul's comments at Thursday's daily briefing. "I think the issues that many fought for in the '50s and '60s were settled a long time ago in landmark legislation," Gibbs told reporters. "A discussion about whether or not you support those shouldn't have a place in our political dialogue in 2010."
Paul's position on the Civil Rights Act has been scrutinized by Democrats and Republicans alike, but he maintains that he would have voted in favor of the legislation and would never support its repeal.
In an interview with Fox's Steve Brown on Thursday, the candidate tried to clarify his remarks.
"In a free society we will occasionally have boorish and uncivilized people who say and do the wrong thing. And part of freedom is that we will have those people in our society," Paul said. "We are not going to tolerate that type of behavior but some of that will be in a private and religious nature."