Rand Paul: 'I Was Having a Great Day Today - and Then I Went on MSNBC' With Their 'Partisan Cranks and Hacks'

By Barbara Boland | July 31, 2014 | 10:32 AM EDT

An interview turned testy at MSNBC, when the host went into familiar territory and accused Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) of opposing the Civil Rights Act - but this time, he made the accusation to Paul's face, and was met with a vigorous defense from the Kentucky Senator!

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) were on MSNBC's "The Cycle" to talk about their criminal justice reform legislation yesterday, but host Ari Melber wanted to talk about Paul's 2010 comments to Rachel Maddow on the Civil Rights Act.

Paul said that the legislation he's supporting is a civil rights issue (the REDEEM act would allow non-violent minors to have their records sealed.)

Seizing the moment that wasn't there, the MSNBC host said: "As we're talking about restoring civil rights here, you stirred up a lot of controversy with the 2010 comments, you said at the time that you had concerns about the rules for private business while you support most of the Civil Rights Act. Why did you evolve on rules for private businesses?"

Paul responded: "What I would say to be fair to myself, because I like to be fair to myself, is that I've always been in favor of the Civil Rights Act. People need to get over themselves writing all this stuff that I've changed my mind on the Civil Rights Act."

"Have I ever had a philosophical discussion about all aspects of it? Yeah, and I learned my lesson," Paul said. "To come on MSNBC and [try to] have a philosophical discussion, the liberals will come out of the woodwork and go crazy, and say you're against the Civil Rights Act, and you're some terrible racist. And I take great objection to that, because, in Congress, I think there is nobody else trying harder to get people back their voting rights, to get people back and make the criminal justice system fair. So I take great offense to people who want to portray me as something that I'm not."

Melber: "But when you said, well, here's where the rules for private businesses are concerning, why not explain that you've evolved on that?"

Paul: "Well because I was never opposed to the Civil Rights Act. And I've been attacked by half-a-dozen people on your network, and somehow now I've changed, so I'm not  really willing to engage with people who are misrepresenting my viewpoint on this. Because I have never been against the Civil Rights Act. I have never said I was against it. So - for people to say that, really, they don't want to have an honest discussion about it."

Melber tried again: "I think the honest discussion is that you said some title of it, Title II and Title VII, that relate to ..."

Paul interrupted: "The honest discussion of it would be that I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act and when your network does 24-hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion."

Melber: "Let me go back to you, Sen. Booker. On the politics of this, do you think this is actually easier for you to support than Sen. Paul?"

Booker: "Honestly, right now, I don't care about the politics of this."

Nice try, MSNBC. Not only was that interview incredibly biased, but apparently you'd like Congress more politically polarized than it already is.

At an event for Young Americans for Liberty later that night, Paul had more to say.

“So I was having a great day today, and then I went to MSNBC.” The crowd laughed.

Paul said the network wanted “to pounce” and that MSNBC should really apologize for all the “lousy lies” they’ve been saying about him for “four years.”

“Really there is an intersection for honest progressives. But I don’t include MSNBC because [in that group] I don’t think they have any… they have partisan cranks and hacks.”