Here’s Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.):
“I don’t want to put words in his mouth,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told the Huffington Post’s Lucia Graves. “It’s clear he doesn’t support racism. I think most people in Kentucky probably believe as I do that in 2010 you should be able to sleep in whatever hotel and eat in whatever restaurant you want to…but as for what’s the proper role of government in the private sector…he’ll have to convince people that his views are acceptable.”
And here’s Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.):
“I don’t know what he means by that,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told POLITICO on Thursday. “I support nondiscrimination of people, so I would need to talk to him to see what precisely his concerns were.”
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl — the No. 2 Republican in the Senate — said he watched Paul’s exchange with Maddow on Wednesday night and suggested that Paul should have avoided “engaging in a theoretical debate with her.”
“I think the two of them were having a bit of good time having a debate like you had at 2 a.m. in the morning when you’re going to college, but it doesn’t have a lot to do with anything,” Kyl said.
Asked if he agreed with Paul’s view, Kyl said: “You’re trying to go back to the 1960s and redebate all that, and I’m just not going to go to it. I think he was trying to say that.”
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that he can understand how Paul reached that conclusion – based on his libertarian-leaning views – but he said that the law is settled, should not be changed and the country should not reopen the “painful” period in American history.
“My view is that issue has been settled – the courts have ruled on it,” Sessions said. “If you open a restaurant, a hotel to the public then you can’t discriminate on who you allow to come in and out, I think that’s settled. I think America is better off that the segregation views are over, and that played a role in it. … But if you take a more libertarian view, a stronger view of private party, you could reach the conclusion he reached.”
Asked if he agreed with Paul’s conclusion, Sessions said: “I don’t support that.”
I think Kyl does the best job of cutting to the core of it.