Mainstream media outlets are pushing the campaign message from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) that he is inclusive and is reaching out to diverse voters, including minorities, women, and low-income Americans, while ignoring his extreme policy positions that may adversely affect those voters.
Mainstream Media Hype Paul's Claim Of Inclusiveness And Diversity
Wash. Post: “Paul Emphasized A Message Of Inclusion And Diversity” To Expand GOP Base. In its April 7 article on Paul's announcement that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, The Washington Post's Post Politics blog stated that he “emphasized a message of inclusion and diversity in step with his strategic aim to expand the traditional GOP base.” The article highlighted the fact that Paul “co-authored bills on reforming the criminal justice system with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and legalizing medical marijuana with Booker and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)” to play up Paul's “unlikely alliances with Democrats.” [The Washington Post, Post Politics, 4/7/15]
Politico: Paul "Highlighted Diversity" During Campaign Launch. Politico's article on Paul's campaign launch hyped his claims of inclusivity, mentioning that “a diverse crowd of supporters was seated behind Paul, showing the cross section of voters to whom Paul is trying to appeal” :
The rally on Tuesday was a manifestation of his attempt to broaden and boost his standing, particularly among young and minority voters. It's hard to remember a Republican candidate who has so highlighted diversity in a campaign launch: on the stage behind him were women, blacks, and young people - all voting blocs that have broken sharply away from Republicans in recent elections. He promised to be a different kind of GOP figure, and said that Democratic policies had failed minorities. [Politico, 4/7/15]
The Wall Street Journal: Paul Presidential Campaign To “Reach Out To New Constituencies.” The Wall Street Journal hyped Paul's effort to demonstrate his commitment to reach out to diverse groups of voters:
Casting himself in the launch speech as a “different kind of Republican,” Mr. Paul highlighted his efforts to reach out to young people, African-Americans and others not traditionally drawn to the GOP. Even though black voters turn out in droves for Democrats, Mr. Paul has made visits to historically black colleges, Detroit and Ferguson, Mo., scene of racial unrest since the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old last summer.
Mr. Paul played the country tune “Shuttin' Detroit Down” at the campaign launch. He was introduced by a lineup of supporters crafted to offer a tableau of diversity--African-Americans, a Latino, a young woman. A blind girl sang the national anthem. [The Wall Street Journal, 4/7/15]
But The Media Ignore Paul's Extreme Policy Stances That Could Disproportionately Harm Women, Minorities, And Low-Income Americans
Paul Criticized Civil Rights Act Anti-Discrimination Measures For Private Businesses. Sen. Paul told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in 2010 that he has problems with the parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibit private businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of race. [MSNBC.com, 10/31/13]
Paul Opposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In a 2013 op-ed published in Politico, Sen. Paul explained that he voted against the 2013 bipartisan immigration reform bill because, in his mind, it did not secure the border. He called the legislation “not serious” and criticized his fellow senators for not supporting his amendment that “would make immigration reform contingent upon Congress writing a strong border security plan.” [Politico, 6/25/13]
Paul's 2013 Senate Budget Proposal Would Have Disproportionately Harmed Low-Income Americans. Paul's 2013 Senate budget proposal would have disproportionately harmed low-income Americans, gutting social safety net programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Act, and the Children's Health Insurance Program by converting their funding into block grants to states and leaving them more open to cuts, according to Think Progress. Paul's proposal would have also exacerbated income inequality by raising taxes on middle- and lower-income Americans while providing massive tax cuts for the wealthiest. [Think Progress, 3/25/13]
Paul Voted Against A Measure That Would Have Allowed Students To Refinance Their College Loans And Lower Rates. On June 11, 2014, Paul voted against a bill that would have allowed student loan borrowers to refinance their debt at lower interest rates. Any income shortfall would have been paid for by enacting the Buffett rule, “which ensures billionaires and millionaires pay their fair share of taxes.” [The Washington Post, Wonkblog, 7/11/14; United States Senate, Roll Call Votes, 7/11/14]
Paul Opposed Renewal Of The Violence Against Women Act. In February 2013, Senator Paul voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act, which passed overwhelmingly with 23 other Republicans in support. In 2012, he called the law unconstitutional in a letter explaining his opposition to a previous vote on it, writing, "[u]nder our Constitution, states are given the responsibility for prosecution of those violent crimes. They don't need Washington telling them how to provide services and prosecute criminals in these cases." [The New York Times,2/12/13; Think Progress, 2/6/13]
Paul Supported Personhood Legislation That Could Make Certain Forms Of Contraception Illegal. The New Yorker magazine reported that Sen. Paul has supported personhood legislation, including the 2013 Life at Conception Act that would make some common forms of birth control illegal. [The New Yorker, 10/8/14]
Paul Said He Finds Same-Sex Marriage Offensive And Called It A “Moral Crisis.” Paul said on Fox News in March 2015 that same-sex marriage “offends” him, and said in an address to religious leaders that marriage equality is only being debated in America because of “a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.” [MSNBC.com,3/30/15]
BuzzFeed: Paul Dismissed The Concept Of Gay Rights. In 2013, Paul said, “I don't think I've ever used the word gay rights, because I don't really believe in rights based on your behavior.” [BuzzFeed, 3/31/15]
Media Matters researcher Alex Kaplan contributed to this item.