When Rand Paul puts others on the spot

WHEN RAND PAUL PUTS OTHERS ON THE SPOT…. One of the main downsides to a national controversy over the beliefs of a high-profile candidate: other candidates start fielding questions about their takes on the matter.

Last week, Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul articulated his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as part of his larger extremist ideology. But given the controversy it generated, it was only a matter of time before Republicans elsewhere started feeling the heat, too.

In Nevada, Sue Lowden, the controversial GOP Senate hopeful, spoke to Politico yesterday, and refused initially to talk about her health care views. When the discussion turned to Paul, she refused to talk about that, too.

At the end of the interview, Lowden declined to discuss whether she shared Paul’s views on the Civil Rights Act.

“You can’t resist this, can you? I have no idea what another candidate says,” Lowden said.

Asked whether she had any concerns about the law’s reach into private business, Lowden said, “I’m going, thank you,” then abruptly hung up the phone.

In Kentucky, Republican congressional candidate Andy Barr was less rude, but no more forthcoming when asked whether he agrees with Paul’s worldview.

“Well, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll certainly answer those questions later on.”

At that point, Barr walked away, rather than continue the discussion.

A couple of things to consider moving forward. First, these questions are likely to continue. Republican campaigns would probably be wise to come up with a stock answer to the inquiries.

Second, coming up with that answer should be pretty easy. For crying out loud, we’re talking about the Civil Rights Act and the ADA. I realize the Republican Party has shifted aggressively to the hard-right, but in the 21st century, even in contemporary GOP politics, there’s nothing wrong with a Republican candidate endorsing some of the bedrock legislation of modern America.

“I support the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” How hard is that to say?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.