WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart ridiculed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s speech at Howard University, and the comedian offered Paul a “history lesson” rebuttal on how the Republican senator’s party has alienated African-American voters.
Sen. Paul’s Wednesday speech to black students and faculty members at the historically black university was representative of GOP efforts to attract a broader range of voters following President Barack Obama’s re-election.
Paul stated that Republicans face long odds in connecting with black voters and are often cast as unsympathetic to the needs of blacks and minorities — something he says the party needs to change.
“Republicans face a daunting task. Several generations of black voters have never voted Republican and are not very open to considering the option,” Paul said. By speaking at Howard, Paul said he hoped students would “hear me out — that you will see me for who I am, not the caricature sometimes presented by political opponents.”
Stewart wasted no time in responding to Sen. Paul’s visit, opening his popular Comedy Central show mocking Paul’s message to the audience.
“The 2012 presidential campaign will most likely be best remembered for the pitched battle that Republicans and Democrats waged for the African-American vote,” began Stewart, immediately followed by a CBS News report stating, “In 2012, President Obama won 93 percent of the black vote.”
“Oh, so close,” responded a sarcastic Stewart.
Sen. Paul expressed dismay that the Republican Party’s positive historical relationship to African-Americans is not more of a focus for current black voters.
“The Republican Party hasn’t talked enough about the great history and interaction between the Republican Party and black history, and voting rights in our country,” said Sen. Paul. “We see horrible Jim Crow and horrible racism that happened in the 30s, 40s, 50s. It was all Democrats. It wasn’t Republicans.”
Stewart responded, “Right. But for the most part, those bigoted Democrats of the 30s, 40s, and 50s became Republicans post-the modern civil rights era.”
“You can’t just ‘yada, yada, yada’ the last 60 Republican years,” Stewart said. “A Republican freed the slaves … gave black people the vote … and then, ‘yada, yada, yada,’ and now all blacks vote Democratic.”
Stewart argued that Sen. Paul was presenting the theory that only a “history lesson” was needed to re-connect Republicans with black voters. He noted an awkward moment in the speech when Paul asked the audience if they knew that Republicans had founded the NAACP, and many in the crowd appeared offended by the question.
“Alright, alright you know more than I know,” Sen. Paul quickly responded to the grumbling crowd. “And I don’t mean that to be insulting, I don’t know what you know, and I mean, I’m trying to find out what the connection is.”
Making one final joke of the segment, Stewart quipped, “It turns out Howard University doesn’t just educate black people.”