(CNN)Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul doesn't want to talk about the root causes behind riots in Baltimore until the smoke clears.
Rand Paul: Now is not the time to discuss causes behind Baltimore unrest
"I think there's a time and a place for talking about root causes, and I think in the middle of a riot, you've got to have safety and security and really that needs to be all that's discussed in the interim," Paul, the presidential candidate, said Tuesday in an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.
Paul has made waves for his unorthodox focus on minority outreach and leadership on criminal justice reform, but as the situation remained turbulent Tuesday, Paul focused instead on the need to clamp down on rioters.
"There's no excuse for the behavior, and the police have to do what they have to do. I'm very sympathetic to the plight of the police," Paul said. "I think it's a mistake to really get too much to root causes."
President Barack Obama also sharply condemned the destructive actions of rioters, which he called counterproductive and inexcusable in a press conference Tuesday and in a radio interview that aired Wednesday morning.
But Obama also called for the need to broaden discussion of tensions between police and poor communities by addressing root causes. Obama called for a broader "political movement" to address causes that go beyond just police training and tactics.
"If you send police officers into those situations where the drug trade is the primary economy and you say to them basically your job is to contain that and arrest kids and put them in jail when those police officers know (it's not going to fix things), then it's not surprising you end up with a situation of enormous tension between those communities and those police officers," he said.
Obama pointed to sentencing reform for nonviolent drug offenders, for which both Paul and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker have advocated.
"Really, there are so many things we can talk about, not in the immediate aftermath but over time. The breakdown of the family structure, lack of fathers, lack of sort of a moral code in our society," Paul said.
But as cleanup crews were still dealing with the damage of rioters who looted stores, threw rocks and bricks at police and set cars on fire, Paul resisted diving deeper.
Paul called the situation in Baltimore "depressing, it's sad, it's scary" and noted that while he was on a train Monday night that passed through Baltimore, he was "glad the train didn't stop."