Rand Paul, who won the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky on Tuesday, found himself under fire after his remarks expressing his concern with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. So he went on the Rachel Maddow Show, where he first announced his candidacy, to defend himself. Yet now Paul, the Tea Party darling, regrets it, "It was a poor political decision and probably won't be happening anytime in the near future. Because, yeah, they can play things and want to say, 'Oh you believed in beating up people that were trying to sit in restaurants in the 1960s.' And that is such a ridiculous notion and something that no rational person is in favor of. [But] she went on and on about that."

Well, Maddow didn't say "Oh you believed in beating up people that were trying to sit in restaurants in the 1960s." Paul said he had an issue with one part of the Civil Rights Act, because he didn't like the idea of telling business owners what they can't do (as in they can't discriminate against minorities). So Maddow asked Paul what he thought about desegregating lunch counters:

Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.' Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion...

Maddow: Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen's lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership. This is not a hypothetical Dr. Paul.

The video of their nearly 20-minute exchange is after the jump. Paul, who has invoked 9/11 in his campaign ads, has responded by issuing a statement, "These attacks prove one thing for certain: the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign."

As for Maddow, she told FishBowlDC, "I've really enjoyed all my interviews with both Drs. Paul - it was an honor that Rand Paul chose to announce his Senate candidacy on my show last year, and I hope he'll come back again. Anyone campaigning to be part of a federal lawmaking institution should expect to be asked, even pressed, on his or her views of the appropriate reach of federal law. For years, I've felt that the relationship between Ron Paul supporters and establishment conservatism is one of the most interesting, relatively-unexplored dynamics in modern US politics. I intend to keep covering it, and I hope that Rand Paul and Congressman Ron Paul and members of the movement they've inspired will continue to be willing to participate in the conversation."