Palmetto Sunrise: Visiting S.C., Paul doesn’t address shooting, marks shift in tone

Rand Paul visits the USS Yorktown on Thursday. Paul Zoeler/Staff

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul launched his campaign in South Carolina Thursday without addressing the main reason national media have descended on the Charleston area – the white police officer who was videotaped gunning down a black man as he ran away from him.

Two days after announcing he would run for the White House in 2016, Paul, a Kentucky Republican, used the aircraft carrier Yorktown as a backdrop to begin crafting his delivery to a hawkishly red state.

Rand, The Post and Courier’s Schuyler Kropf reported, did address the now-nationally followed shooting on CNN on Wednesday, where he cautioned against broad-brush coloring of law enforcement.

“First, I would like to say it’s just a terrible tragedy, and I hope justice does occur,” Paul said on CNN. “But I do think that sometimes — the way we report news — we tend to report the news of crime, and so we see a lot of crime, and we think it’s representative of the whole. And I think when you look at police across our country, 98, 99 percent of them are doing their job on a day-to-day basis and aren’t doing things like this.”

Paul has actively reached out to minorities as a senator, sometimes chiding his own Republican Party over stands on voter I.D. laws and drug conviction sentencing guidelines.

The USS Yorktown speech fit what is expected to become somewhat of a theme for Paul’s run — less of a focus on so-called core libertarian issues.

As Politico put it: “There’s no talk from the Kentuckian about ending the Federal Reserve, no quoting Friedrich Hayek and no laments about how the U.S. deserves a share of blame for terrorism – all hallmarks of Ron Paul presidential campaign rallies. Doom-and-gloom has been replaced by sunny optimism; the language of revolution has been supplanted by something that sounds a lot more incremental and a lot less edgy.”

In other news...

The traffic stop that led to Walter Scott’s death had a routine start, but critics of the North Charleston police say that the stop itself — for a brake light — is part of a troubling trend.

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn blamed the shooting on laws pushed by conservative groups like ALEC, which he said foster a climate “that’s causing these things to occur all over.” He also encouraged young people to keep their cellphone cameras fixed on police.

Presidential hopefuls have roundly condemned the North Charleston shooting.