Parties battle over Paul's rocky start in Ky. Senate race 

Tea Party favorite Rand Paul's recent political missteps are those of a novice candidate and will not sink his chance of winning the Kentucky Senate race, Republican Party leaders said.

But Democrats believe his candidacy represents a form of Tea Party extremism that will be beatable in November.

"This is an example of what's happening to the Republican Party across the country, beating the Republican establishment, but it's the mainstream losing to the extreme," Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., head of the Senate Democratic campaign arm, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Fresh of his victory in the Republican Senate primary, Paul on Wednesday ignited a political firestorm by questioning whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act was constitutional. Paul expressed a similar line of thinking on National Public Radio earlier that day and the press has since dug up past transcripts where Paul questioned the law, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act. On Friday, Paul created new controversy by saying that it was "un-American" for the White House to say that the administration would keep it's "boot on the neck" of BP oil over the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Republicans made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows to defend their new candidate, an eye surgeon whose grass-roots campaign crushed Trey Grayson, the GOP establishment's pick.

Paul was scheduled to appear on "Meet the Press," but declined, host David Gregory said, "because he wanted to avoid the liberal bias of the media."

"You know, even a very good baseball player sometimes has a hard time going from AAA to the major leagues," Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "And that's what happened to him last week."

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine declared him unfit for elected office.

"Rand Paul's statements along these lines are very, very troubling, and it's important for Republican leaders to say whether they back this kind of an attitude or not," Kaine said on ABC's "This Week."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, appearing on the same show, called Paul's views "a philosophical perspective," often held by libertarians.

Host Jake Tapper pressed Steele about whether he was "comfortable" with Paul's views.

"I am not comfortable with a lot of things, but it doesn't matter what I'm comfortable with and not comfortable with," Steele responded. "I don't vote in that election. The people of Kentucky will."

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," drew a comparison to her interactions with the media during her White House campaign, which some believe hurt her candidacy.

"One thing that we can learn in this lesson that I have learned and Rand Paul is learning now is don't assume that you can engage in a hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a media personality who has an agenda, who may be prejudiced before they even get into the interview in regards to what your answer may be and then the opportunity that they seize to get you," Palin said.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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