Sen. Rand Paul could have had a better campaign rollout if he controlled his temper in media interviews, according to reporters and news analysts. Paul had a rough week, getting into sparing matches with a number of reporters questioning his campaign positions on issues versus his stands on those issues several years ago.
Paul was hostile to Today Show host Savannah Gutherie, and then was abrasive with Associated Press reporter Philip Elliot. There was also the shushing incident involving Kelly Evans, CNBC anchor, earlier this year. The issue of the candidate’s temperament is causing distance and criticism from even traditionally conservative outlets, like Fox News.
The latest presidential candidate is not getting support from fellow Republicans, nor from conservative groups. The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, a Republican group, aimed its negative spin towards him over the senator’s stance on Iranian sanctions. The group is releasing video that consists of Paul stating he does not support sanctions. The senator was not invited, as other candidates seeking the presidency were, to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting last week. The reason the NRA did not include him was because of his association with gun control groups.
Democrats are making the Paul campaign their central focus of opposition. Words like “extreme” and “nightmare” are used regularly in the Democratic National Committee’s daily conference calls with the media. Liberal groups, including Next Gen, organized protests at his first rally. The issue at point is his views on climate change.
Political strategists said Democrats are targeting Paul because he represents a real threat in that he could coordinate a coalition outside mainstream Republican politics. That would give him a better chance at election rather than trying to work within the party. Democrats would fare better if the party could keep the race within the current political system, according to analysts.
Some say Paul is trying to implement appeal across such a large base of moderates, Independents, and Republicans that he has turned off voters. His message has become convoluted and contradictory, pundits said.
For all the ongoing battles, polls are showing Paul some solid support. He holds fourth place in most polls. Gov. Jeb Bush holds the number one spot with Gov. Scott Walker in second place. Sen. Ted Cruz remains in the third spot, according to Real Clear Politics. Paul’s announcement of his candidacy in Louisville, Ky., also went well, according to analysts, with the senator successfully defining himself as a non-traditional politician that has widespread likeability.
As for his temperament, Paul readily admits he has a short fuse when it comes to dealing with the media. The Kentucky senator said in an interview he does not show his anger to bully women in the media, but has been “universally short-tempered and testy” to both men and women reporters. Columnists suggest that his dismissive behavior toward tough questions could be a political pitfall in a campaign.
Most have the same advice for Paul, and that advice includes learning how to control an obvious adversarial relationship (as well as his temper) with the media during interviews. The senator was the second person to announce intentions to seek the nation’s high office. While that amounts to significant positive press coverage, it also means reporters have more time to research positions and past interviews.
By Melody Dareing
Christian Science Monitor
Photo by Mark Taylor – Flickr license