LOUISVILLE — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has reignited speculation that he is positioning himself for a run in the 2016 Republican primaries, this time by trying to win the favor of convicted felons.
In a meeting with several Louisville community leaders, the Tea Party favorite called for the restoration of felon voting rights in state and federal laws. Currently, most states restore felons’ right to vote after leaving prison, while others wait until felons have served parole. Kentucky, however, is one of 12 states with more restrictive laws on the books.
“I’m still not saying that I would vote against it, but here’s another thing that the Civil Rights Act completely skipped over in 1964,” Paul told the Louisville Courier-Journal after the meeting.
“Let me repeat myself,” Paul added, “I’m not saying I was against the Civil Rights Act. I’m just saying that felons, who for some odd reason seem to be mostly African-Americans, should not be restricted from voting.”
Paul noted that under current legislation, 5.85 million convicted felons are unable to vote, but he admitted that he “wouldn’t go so far as to call that discrimination.”
“It’s more like an unfortunate circumstance. But if we can change this circumstance, preferable by 2015, or early 2016 at the latest, I think it could do a lot for the African American peoples, who in turn could do a lot for a certain presidential hopeful,” stated Paul.
“One in three young black males has been convicted of a felony and they’ve lost their voting rights. I think it dwarfs all other (election-related) issues,” Paul said, adding that, “even if half of those felons vote, that’s enough to tip most swing states in the right direction.”
Paul also hinted that he is in favor of restoring felons’ Second Amendment rights. “I am in favor of letting people get their rights back, the right to vote … Second Amendment rights, all your rights to come back.”
“After all,” Paul surmised, “felons probably have a greater need to protect themselves with firearms, so it would be unfair to deny them the right to bear arms.”