We don't know exactly when a Times reporter called Paul's office with that question, but we know that Paul's eventual statement distancing himself from Bundy—"His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him"—didn't come until Thursday morning, nearly 10 hours after the story went online and after Bundy's remarks were already drawing wide notice. So basically, Paul's disagreement is wholehearted, but not something that could be expressed the first time his office heard what Bundy said. Duly noted.
Some of Bundy's other prominent supporters made excuses, with conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch writing that "I hope no one is surprised that an old man rancher isn’t media-trained to express himself perfectly." As if there's a more perfect, media-friendly way to suggest that it's a shame that the Negro of today never learned to pick cotton like they would have under slavery. Then there's Breitbart's John Nolte:
First off, when you're relying on a single incident 45 years in the past to make your case, your case might be weak. Second, "Ted Kennedy's causes"? Like, "oh, damn, I supported health care reform, but it's one of Kennedy's causes, so I guess I better distance myself from it?" See, Ted Kennedy's causes were real causes. The point was getting more rights for more people, increasing equality, slowing a nuclear arms race ... big-picture stuff about which more could be said than "Ted Kennedy supports this." "Cliven Bundy shouldn't have to pay to graze his cattle on federal land, like all the other ranchers do" is a stark—and pitiful—contrast as far as "causes" go.
It sure is a shame that after so many Republicans praised a man for taking up arms against the federal government to avoid paying for his use of government land, they should have to deal with the fact that he's also a racist.