Here's a fact of American politics: All candidates – especially ones running for the White House – flip-flop on issues. (They're politicians, after all.)
But here's another fact: Rand Paul, who announced his presidential bid Tuesday, has taken many different sides to many different issues over the years.
From the Civil Rights Act to Israel to vaccinations, below is a list of five issues where Paul has performed some verbal gymnastics – if not full flip-flops.
CIVIL RIGHTS ACT
Then: Disagreed with the provision in the 1964 Civil Rights Act mandating that businesses can’t discriminate in places of public accommodation, like hotels and restaurants. “I abhor racism, I think it’s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant… but at the same time I do believe in private ownership… Most good defenders of the 1st Amendment will believe in an abhorrent group standing up and saying awful things.” (Interview with Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board, 2010)
Now: Fully supports the Civil Rights Act
“No Republican questions or disputes civil rights," Paul said. "I’ve never wavered in my support for civil rights or the Civil Rights Act.” (Paul remarks at Howard University, 4/10/13)
Then: Proposed that undocumented immigrants could have a pathway to citizenship – by first obtaining legal status and visas and then have the option of applying for citizenship.
“You get in the same lines, you get in the line wherever you sign up, you don’t go to the front of any line,” he explained. “And I know that sounds silly, but front or back of the line seems to be this thing that’s really important to people. So what I would say is, you have the option to get in the line without going home. That’s the main difference from what we have now, as well as you get a work visa if you want to work.” (NBC, 3/19/13)
Now: Says he opposes “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants
“I do not support amnesty, but rather I support a legal immigration process. I recognize that the country has been enriched by those who seek the American Dream and the desire for a better life, however, millions of illegal immigrants are crossing our border without our knowledge which threatens our national security.” (Campaign website)
Then: Said Iran isn’t a threat
I think people want to paint my father into some corner, but if you look at it intellectually, look at the evidence that Iran is not a threat. Iran cannot even refine their own gasoline. Over 50 percent of their gasoline is imported from Europe." (Interview with Alex Jones, 12/07)
Now: Signed letter to Iran sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., that tried to undercut President Obama’s negotiations with Iran
"There's no one in Washington more against war and more for a negotiated deal than I am," Paul said in an interview at SXSW in Austin, Texas. "But I want the negotiated deal to be a good deal. So my reason for signing onto the letter, I think it reiterates what is the actual law, that Congress will have to undo sanctions. But I also signed onto the letter because I want the president to negotiate from a position of strength which means that he needs to be telling them in Iran that 'I've got Congress to deal with.'" (Huffington Post, 3/16/15)
Also: "I will oppose any deal that does not end Iran's nuclear ambitions and have strong verification measures." (Announcement speech, 4/7/15)
Then: Proposed a budget in 2011 eliminating foreign aid to Israel
“While this budget proposal does eliminate foreign aid to Israel, it is not meant to hurt, negate, or single out one of America’s most important allies. This proposal eliminates all foreign aid to all countries. Israel’s ability to conduct foreign policy, regain economic dominance, and support itself without the heavy hand of U.S. interests and policies, will only strengthen the Israeli community.” (Paul FY 2012 budget, released March 2011 https://web.archive.org/web/20120905012813/http://campaignforliberty.com/materials/RandBudget.pdf)
Now: Denies he ever proposed eliminating foreign aid to Israel
“I haven’t really proposed that in the past,” Paul told Yahoo News. “We’ve never had a legislative proposal to do that. You can mistake my position, but then I’ll answer the question. That has not been a position — a legislative position — we have introduced to phase out or get rid of Israel’s aid.” (Yahoo, 8/4/14)
Then: Said he heard of cases where vaccines caused “profound mental disorders”
"I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they are a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom and public health." (CNBC interview, 2/2/15)
Now: Maintains he didn’t say that vaccines cause disorders
"I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related -- I did not allege causation," Paul said. "I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated." (NBC, 2/3/15)