UPDATE: Rand Paul’s office responds (See below)
In an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “America Live” on Thursday, Kentucky Republican Sen. Paul told host Bill Hemmer that Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are wrong to criticize him for working to provide legal status to illegal immigrants.
Paul, fresh off his win in the Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll, specifically disagreed with the suggestion he is being “suckered” into an agreement with Democrats.
“I’ve got a news flash for those who want to call people names on amnesty: What we have now is de facto amnesty,” Paul replied. “We have 11 million people here that have been here — some of them for a decade or more. No one is telling them to go home. … So I would say if you want to work, we’ll find a place for you. But that doesn’t mean you get special privileges. It just means we’ll get you a work visa.”
Hemmer reminded Paul that Coulter has suggested proposals like his would make the GOP less competitive in national elections.
“The clip you played said we won’t be competitive in national elections,” Paul said of Coulter’s CPAC remarks. “Here’s another news flash: We haven’t been too competitive in the last two national elections. And I’m not asking for an abrogation of law. I’m not asking for something that’s not conservative. I’m the one up here saying we have to have border security. But I am one up here who says if people want to work, we’ll find a place for them. And I think that is not only the right thing to do, but I think it’s a way to expand the Republican Party to where people will listen to us, because they say it’s a reasonable position.”
A spokesman for Paul’s office contacted The Daily Caller after the story published and contended his office was “of the strong opinion that it is unfair to use Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh’s names in the headline.”
“Sen. Paul did not call out Coulter or Limbaugh by name, yet the headline give the impression that he did,” the spokesman said in an email.
Paul’s office also provided a statement from the Kentucky senator’s chief of staff Doug Stafford, who insisted Paul’s tack wasn’t meant to be an attack on either individual.
“If one views the interview, it is clear that Sen. Paul was not attacking Rush Limbaugh nor Ann Coulter,” Stafford said in a statement. “As a matter of fact, the Senator is a huge fan of Rush and was on his show as recently as last week.”