Kentucky Senator and former presidential candidate Rand Paul said on Sunday that while he respects Congressman John Lewis, his status as a civil rights leader does not make him immune to criticism.
“I do appreciate him being a civil rights icon, but I would also say that that doesn’t make us immune from criticism or debate,” Paul said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
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“So John Lewis isn’t in a position where there can’t be a healthy debate back and forth. Because he’s a civil rights icon shouldn’t make him immune.”
“When things involve race, it gets very very sensitive,” Paul said, adding “None of us actually want to be considered to be the racially insensitive … but I think we shouldn’t ignore that peoplel are partisan. So, John Lewis is a partisan. I have a great deal of respect for him, but he’s a partisan and I disagree with him on issues.”
Paul said that he should be able to “honestly disagree with” Lewis without have it be construed as him having no appreciation for a civil rights leader.
On Friday speaking on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ he told host Chuck Todd, “I don’t see this President-elect as a legitimate president.” To be sure, Lewis’s statement was an astounding rebuke, especially coming from a sitting member of Congress, toward an incoming President.
At the same time, many regard it as great irony considering the fact that Trump largely launched his political career by questioning the legitimacy of President Obama, except that unlike Lewis, Trump championed the patently false claim that Obama was not born in the United States.
Trump has been roundly criticized by leaders on both side of the aisle for his attacks on Lewis.