On conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham’s show today, senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul blamed the riots in Baltimore on “the breakdown of the family structure” and “a lack of fathers,” among other things. Rand Paul’s own son has been arrested three times on alcohol-related charges, including assault.

Paul frequently talks about police brutality, including writing an essay for Time on the need to demilitarize the police in August of 2014, near the start of the protests in Ferguson following the killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Today, though, he appeared to be trying to strike a harder edge for Ingraham’s audience, saying it wasn’t the right time to talk about the “root causes” of the riots, which began after Freddie Gray died of a spinal injury in police custody.

“There’s a time and a a place for talking about root causes,” Paul said. (You can listen the audio here; we saw it via Talking Points Memo.) “But in the middle of a riot, you’ve got to have safety and security.... Root causes can be discussed. There’s a lot of root cultural causes for why violence breaks out, but there’s no excuse for it.” He added, “The police have to do what they have to do, and I’m very sympathetic to the plight of the police in this.”

Paul also said, briefly, that police violence in Baltimore did need to be addressed: “The young men that died in police custody, justice has to come from that,” Paul said, but added that the violence didn’t excuse “thuggery and thievery” in the city.

At some point, the senator added, it will be appropriate to talk about those “root causes,” which don’t include police violence: “I took the train on Baltimore [sic] last night, I’m glad the train didn’t stop. But the things is, really, there are so many things we can talk about, not in the immediate aftermath, but over time: the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of a moral code in our society. This isn’t just a racial thing. It goes across racial boundaries.” Paul added that the country is “closer to the tipping point than many think.”

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Rand Paul’s son William was most recently arrested for drunk driving earlier this month. No word from the senator yet on whether that too can be blamed on a lack of fathers and/or moral code.

Rand Paul pictured in Iowa earlier this month. Photo via AP

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