News & Politics

Rand Paul Walks Back His Criticism of Voter ID Laws

It took the Kentucky Senator only three days to get in line with the GOP establishment.

Photo Credit: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock

Well, that was quick. Barely three days after his comments suggesting that Republicans need to get off the voter suppression kick if they ever wanted to appeal to minority voters, there’s this “clarification” from the director of his PAC (via Dave Weigel):

Senator Paul was having a larger discussion about criminal justice reform and restoration of voting rights, two issues he has been speaking about around the country and pushing for in state and federal legislation.
In the course of that discussion, he reiterated a point he has made before that while there may be some instances of voter fraud, it should not be a defining issue of the Republican Party, as it is an issue that is perhaps perceived in a way it is not intended. At no point did Senator Paul come out against voter ID laws.

So it’s fine to push voter ID laws and (presumably) otherwise try to keep minority folk from voting. But just don’t make it a “defining issue of the Republican Party,” which I am reasonably sure not a single person has suggested.

For dessert, the walk-back statement uses the “federalism” dodge, an old favorite of the Paul family on controversial issues:

In terms of the specifics of voter ID laws, Senator Paul believes it’s up to each state to decide that type of issue.

That’s also true of felon disenfranchisement laws and for the most part criminal justice reform, topics on which Paul sees no constitutional bar to a U.S. Senator discussing.

For a brave truth-teller succeeded to the leadership of his father’s Revolution, Rand Paul is sure gun-shy when it comes to defying the conservative movement/GOP CW.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a Special Correspondent for The New Republic.

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Election 2018