Rand Paul

Rand Paul: Thin-Skinned, Flip-Flopping, Question-Dodging Candidate?

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Rand Paul
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The Weekly Standard makes the case—implicitly, at least—that Sen. Rand Paul might not be ready for a presidential campaign in which his every word, choice, and past statement will be picked apart.

TWS's John McCormack asked Paul at an event in New Hampshire to square his previous resistance to attacking ISIS—he didn't want to help Iran fight its battles, he said at the time—with his recent support for aspects of President Obama's plan. According to McCormack, Paul responded by ending the Q and A session:

This was the second press conference that Paul had abruptly ended on Friday. …

So when did the senator decide that he supported bombing ISIS? "I don't know if there is an exact time," Paul told me Friday.

I asked Paul twice if he was no longer concerned, as he wrote in June, that bombing ISIS may simply turn the United States into "Iran's air force." He didn't respond to the questions and indicated he wasn't happy with this reporter as well as a local reporter who repeatedly suggested Paul is an isolationist.

"All right, thanks guys. Work on that objectivity," Paul said, as he walked away.

Agree or disagree that these sorts of questions are fair, Paul is certainly going to get more of them as his presumed quest for the Republican presidential nomination continues. Most journalists he deals with certainly won't be working on their objectivity anytime soon.

Additionally, I'm a bit surprised that Paul—who prides himself on ideological consistency—has been caught so off guard by this line of questioning. Of course people want to know the specifics of why and when Paul's principled opposition to ISIS intervention morphed into outright support for airstrikes. And of course hostile reporters want to jump on the Rand-is-a-thin-skinned-flip-flopping-sell-out narrative. It certainly looks like Paul is merely hedging earlier stances (absent any mitigating or clarifying information), and that's why the media is writing so many stories about it.

Perhaps most people—and even some libertarians—will find nothing objectionable about Paul's latest opinions. But from a political-imaging standpoint, he clearly needs to explain his thinking more clearly when contradictions arise, if only to safeguard against the proliferation of stories like McCormack's.