Something else that is overblown? Paul's idea about his record on what he calls "minority rights."
SALON: When it comes to race, how do you explain to potential new supporters some past controversies – like your comments on the Civil Rights Act and a former aide’s neo-Confederate past — that you know Democrats and others will bring up should you seek the White House?PAUL: Well, I think that I simply point to my record. I don’t think there has been anybody who has been a bigger defender of minority rights in the Congress than myself, and that’s not saying others aren't trying as well. But I think you can see a history and a litany of bills that I’ve put forward to not only restore voting rights, but to try to prevent people from the tragedy of losing their employability through felony convictions and other things.People will always do things for partisan purposes, and I think some of that drummed up in the beginning for partisan purposes when I was running for office. But no, I don’t think there’s anything out there that people are going to say, “Oh, look at this, this means that you’re a racist,” or something, and I think if they do, they probably pigeonhole themselves as being unreasonable by making that kind of comment.
One person who apparently slipped Paul's mind as he was making this comment was Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who got his head cracked open on "Bloody Sunday" in 1965.
As for his own record, Paul's stance on the issues that normally come under the rubric of civil and minority rights isn't exactly the kind of record activists in those fields would tout. He has said he doesn't personally believe in same-sex marriage and that the right for gays and lesbians to marry should be left up to the states to decide. He has said that the American With Disabilities Act goes too far. He also voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, which passed the Senate 64-32. (Sen. John McCain, among other Republicans, voted for it.) He has said that he wants to restore the role of the federal government in the Voting Rights Act, but hasn't introduced any legislation on it or signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill that would accomplish that goal, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014.
Paul's exaggeration over his own record illustrates one of his bad habits, which is that he tends to say things with little to back up what he says. This will be a problem if he runs for president. His comments also show that he doesn't yet have a good answer to the real question about his past comments about the Civil Rights Act and the American Disabilities Act.
Paul's party will be in control of Senate and all of Congress come 2015. He'll have a chance to introduce and build support around "minority rights" bills -- including ones that go beyond criminal justice reform. He has a chance to build a record, but whether he will go beyond photo-ops and soundbites is anybody's guess.