In the days since he rolled out his campaign, Rand Paul has been on the offensive against anyone who doesn't "Stand with Rand" or questions his political evolution. On Israel, on abortion, on Iran, Paul has decided that where he once stood is not all that relevant.
Chastising a reporter inevitably turns into a national news story about the Republican, the rogue candidate, the reactionary—but this isn't new.
Just two days into his campaign, the senator from Kentucky is testing out an unorthodox approach for handling the media while running for president. Seeking the White House typically requires candidates to strike a delicate tone, something between Hillary Clinton's highly calculated responses and Paul's harsh defenses. But Paul, a libertarian-leaning senator who has found resonance in Congress by lashing out at the media and making it part of his brand, is doubling down on that strategy.
Where candidates of the past have often taken uncomfortable questions and spun together polite non-answers, Paul is more comfortable explicitly calling reporters out for pursuing a line of questioning. He's been criticized for being particularly hostile in interviews with female reporters; in February, he shushed a CNBC anchor during an interview about vaccinations and corporate tax incentives. During his Wednesday morning appearance on NBC's Today show, Paul explicitly told Savannah Guthrie how she should ask him a question.
In a CNN interview later that day, Paul defended himself as an equal-opportunity offender to media. "I think I have been universally short-tempered and testy with both male and female reporters," he told Wolf Blitzer.
But the lawmaker also said that he's going to work on such antagonistic reactions to questions. "I will have to get better at holding my tongue and holding my temper," he said.
Here are the rules of dealing with the media, according to Paul.
â—† Paul does not like fact checks.
"The fact-checking is not fact-checking," Paul said in August 2013, responding to a reporter's question. "These are people with a bias. It's purely an opinion. The stuff is so ludicrous I don't even read it."
â—† Topics he feels are off limits are off limits.
In 2013, National Journal asked Paul about an aide of his who was fired over racist comments. Paul became exasperated with the question, telling the reporter that "I'm sort of done with that."
â—† Rand Paul is not interested in answering questions about inconsistencies in his policy positions.
On NBC's Today show Wednesday morning, Guthrie pressed Paul on whether he's changed his outlook on foreign policy. He used to think Iran was not a threat, and took the position that the U.S. should not give Israel foreign aid. Paul grew impatient with the questions. "Why don't you let me explain instead of talking over me, OK?" he said, then offered Guthrie some advice: "Before we go through a litany of things you say I've changed on, why don't you ask me a question: 'Have I changed my opinion?'"
â—† If you're not satisfied with his answer, too bad.
At an event in New Hampshire Wednesday, an Associated Press reporter asked Paul to clarify his stance on abortion restrictions. "I gave you about a five-minute answer. Put in my five-minute answer," Paul said.
At a press conference later, Paul said he thought the media was unfairly scrutinizing Republicans on the issue. "Why don't we ask the [Democratic National Committee]: 'Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus?' Paul said, according to a report from Bloomberg News. "You go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she's OK with killing a seven-pound baby that is not born yet."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.