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Rand Paul to Quote MLK, John Lewis in SOTU Response

Paul will deliver his own response to the State of the Union address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul plans to quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when responding to Tuesday night's State of the Union address.  

In an early excerpt provided to CQ Roll Call, the Kentucky Republican cites both King and fellow civil-rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in reference to tension and discontent in America today.  

"At home, much of nation still suffers. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of two Americas. He described them as 'two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side.' "In one America people experienced 'the opportunity of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all its dimensions.' In the other America people experienced a 'daily ugliness' that dashes hope and leaves only 'the fatigue of despair.' "There is a tension that has become visible in the protests in every major American city.  As Congressman John Lewis put it: 'There is a growing discontent in this country.' "I think peace will come when those of us who have enjoyed the American Dream become aware of those who are missing out on the American Dream. The future of our country will be secure when we break down the wall that separates us from 'the other America.'"
The White House confirmed Tuesday that President Barack Obama is planning a March 7 visit to Selma, Ala., for the 50th anniversary of the historic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are expected to attend.  

Paul said in an interview with CQ Roll Call that he had a separate trip to Alabama on his schedule.  

When asked during about updating the Voting Rights Act and the prospect of his own trip to Selma, Paul highlighted his efforts to restore voting rights for particularly non-violent felons who have served their sentences at both the federal level and back home in Kentucky.  

"I think the biggest impediment to voting in our country is part of criminal justice reform," Paul said. "In my state, 250,000 people lost their right to vote. Across the country, people think it's maybe 5 million."  

"I think there is no bigger question with regard to voting rights than trying to reform the system to allow people, when they've served their time — particularly non-violent felonies — to get their voting rights back," Paul said, adding he had worked on that effort with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.  

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