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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript


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BLITZER: We're joined by the Democratic Senate candidate from Kentucky, the state's Attorney General, Jack Conway. Mr. Conway, thanks very much for coming in.

JACK CONWAY (D), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: My pleasure. Good afternoon to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: You heard Dr. Paul say that he would have voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He certainly does not want to repeal it.

On this issue, is the case closed now, as far as you're concerned?

CONWAY: No. No. Rand Paul claims to be running as an outsider, but on this issue here, in the last 24 hours in your show, he pulled the good old Washington flip-flop.

You know, I didn't -- I didn't start this issue, Wolf. He started talking about this in an editorial board interview with the "Louisville Courier Journal" some weeks ago. He reiterated it on NPR.

He's basically saying that that portion of the Civil Rights Act that deals with lunch counters and saying that you cannot discriminate based on the color of your skin, an issue that I thought we settled nearly a half a century ago, and he disagreed with that. And then he reiterated it again on "The Rachel Maddow Show" the other night in 20 of the most painful minutes I've ever seen on cable TV.

And what he said to her in essence was that had he been in the U.S. Senate in 1964, he would have been seeking to change that particular provision. He would have been seeking to delete that particular provision.

So, no, the case isn't closed --

BLITZER: Because now he says he -- he doesn't want to repeal the Civil Right Act and he says he would have voted in favor of it had he been a member of Congress at that time.

CONWAY: Well, he's clearly backpedaling because he's seen the national firestorm that he has caused.

What's clear, from what he has said repeatedly up until your program yesterday, is that he's rejecting -- he's rejecting a fundamental provision in the Civil Rights Act that says that if -- if you're providing a public accommodation, if you're a restaurant or a hotel, that you can't discriminate based on race. And he seems to think that property rights or first amendment rights somehow trump the government's ability to say, you know, we've moved on in the area of civil rights.

So I don't think this is case closed. But it's not just what he said in the area of civil rights, it's what he said with regard to the American with Disabilities Act --

BLITZER: Well, let me press you -- let me press you on that, because he said he's not sure how he would have voted on the Americans with Disabilities Act, because he -- he's a libertarian. He wants less federal involvement in day to day lives, and he says, you know, I'm not sure which way I would have gone on that.

Do you have a problem with his stance on that issue?

CONWAY: Sure I have a problem with his stance on that issue. I would have proudly voted for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

BLITZER: When you say probably you're not sure you -- how you would --

CONWAY: No, I said I would have proudly. I would have proudly --

BLITZER: Proudly. OK. Sorry.

CONWAY: Yes. I'm sorry.

Yes, I would have proudly voted for it.

I mean, what's he saying to people with disabilities, that just take your office on the first floor? If you have colleagues with whom you need to interact upstairs, you can't go up there, we don't need to put a ramp or an elevator?

What's he saying to the veterans that are coming back from these two wars and are disabled?

That is a very, very callous position. And -- and what Rand Paul has is he has a view, Wolf, that's outside of the mainstream. And he seems to always side with business and think that government has no role whatsoever in dealing with -- with business, and he gets into some very, very out of the mainstream positions.

Like what he said this morning on "Good Morning America", Wolf --

BLITZER: Well, let -- let me get to that, because, you know, he's a libertarian, like his father.


BLITZER: He wants less federal involvement. And I'll play the clip of what he said on "Good Morning America" and we'll get your response.


BLITZER: He was asked about the Obama administration's role, its involvement in dealing with the massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, you know, I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP. I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.

I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of the sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault, and instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen.


BLITZER: You got have a problem with that?

CONWAY: I have a huge problem with that, Wolf. You know, talking about what's un-American, BP is a huge international conglomerate. And saying that the administration shouldn't have its boot heel in their throat, BP needs to -- to pay for that cleanup.

And BP doesn't need to have its boot heel on the fisherman of the Gulf of Mexico who are -- who are struggling right now. And, you know, here you're standing up for BP. In the Senate, we don't need another senator who just stands up for the corporations. I'm interested in standing up for the people of Kentucky.

There are people in Kentucky who are scared to death that the government somehow is going to be left with a bailout tab for this Gulf oil spill. So, he is standing up with big business instead of standing up with the people who need help. Look at Wall Street. I mean, we let business do whatever they want to do on Wall Street, and we wreck our economy. We need more accountability on Wall Street and more accountability with industries like BP. We don't need less of it.

BLITZER: So, you want more regulation on Wall Street.

CONWAY: Sure. Absolutely. I'm glad to see that robust financial reform is moving forward. You know, he also said very callously, Wolf, that accidents just happen, and he referenced minors. You know, that is very callous and cold to families in places like West Virginia and Kentucky who are still mourning the death of miners here in our state and some real tragedies. And just to say that accidents happened, you have to figure out what happened. You have to figure out how you make it safer for the future so that it doesn't happen again.

BLITZER: How worried are you about the tea party movement because he's clearly the darling of the tea party movement. They seem to be very energized. How big of a problem is this going to be for you in the campaign?

CONWAY: You know, I don't know. It's still early in the general campaign. Obviously, the tea party movement is energized, but Rand Paul seems to want to be the prince of the tea party movement whereas I want to be the next United States senator from the commonwealth of Kentucky, standing up for Kentucky working families, standing up for the nearly 11 percent of our state that's unemployed right now, and standing up to make sure that we never again bail out Wall Street the way that we did.

I'm standing for small and medium size businesses that are trying to get loans from smaller community banks. That's what I want to do. And I think the tea party movement is having to take a hard second look at Rand Paul right now. Now, I think that people like Mitch McConnell in the Republican leadership is having to take a hard second look at Rand Paul right now. Mitch McConnell is supposed to stand with him this weekend at a unity rally with Republicans here in Kentucky, and it will be interesting to see how close Mitch McConnell actually gets to Rand Paul this weekend.

BLITZER: Jack Conway is the attorney general of Kentucky. He is the democratic senatorial candidate. We certainly want to have you back here in the SITUATION ROOM on many occasions between now and November, Mr. Conway. Good luck.

CONWAY: It would be my pleasure, and I enjoy your show, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: By the way, would you be open to doing a debate here in the SITUATION ROOM with Rand Paul?

CONWAY: Absolutely. I'd be happy to do that.

BLITZER: All right. We'll talk to him and see if we can organize that. Thanks very much.

CONWAY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Clearly, Democrats are hanging and bouncing on Rand Paul's every word. Is he becoming a big problem for Republicans? Stand by for our strategy session.

And should alcohol be outlawed like marijuana. I'll ask the first drug czar and the current drug czar. They're here together. A rare joint appearance here in the SITUATION ROOM.



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