WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) defended his performance at Howard University last week in a 48-minute session with reporters on Wednesday morning, and said that he will continue his efforts to speak with minority groups because he wants to change what he said is a widely held view that the Republican Party is racist.
"There is a perception that Republicans don't like people of color, they don't like black people, brown people or people of different color skin. It's not true, but that's the perception that we have to overcome," Paul said at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. "And the only way to overcome that, I think, is by showing up and saying over and over again that it is not true."
Paul said he will continue to speak at places like Howard about the Republican Party's "rich history in civil rights."
"I'll keep trying. I don't give up easily," he said.
Paul also said that he was criticized unfairly after his speech at Howard last week for asking questions of the audience that seemed to presume ignorance about portions of the Republican Party's history and its relationship with African Americans.
"That was misreported," Paul said. "I asked them, 'Do you know?' and I didn't know the answer. This is my first time to go to a historically black college."
"People say, 'Well, you should know the answer.' Well, that was part of the reason for going there, was I didn't know the answer," he said. "I said, 'Did they all know that the NAACP was founded by Republicans?' And in retrospect it sounds like it is a dumb question, but it's like, Republicans haven't been going to Howard for 20 years, so maybe by me going there I did learn something. And I did learn that everybody there knows, and I left there knowing that: Everybody there knows."
Even if the students at Howard did know the history of the GOP, Paul said, "I think you'd find that 90 percent of the public has no idea."
Paul was not happy with the media coverage of the event.
"It's unfair what the media tries to do to me on this," Paul said. "I'm a little sensitive to some of it."