|Rand Paul, Sean Hannity|
The Republican launched his political career on an anti-establishment message. He’s gained renown for trolling his political opponents on social media. Even the first half of the slogan for his presidential campaign skews combative: “Defeat the Washington machine.”
But, according to The Washington Post, the rocky media rollout of his presidential effort highlighted a key question facing him now: whether the same tough approach that has made him a favorite among tea party activists and libertarians might be limiting in a national campaign, as he looks to build a broader coalition rich with voters from beyond his base.
On Tuesday, hours after his campaign launch, Paul bristled at a question from Fox News host Sean Hannity about a 2007 comment in which he’d dubbed the idea that Iran posed a threat to U.S. security a “ridiculous” one. Paul was one of 47 Republican senators who recently signed a letter aimed at derailing a deal to contain Iran’s nuclear program, drawing scrutiny over his hawkish turn.
“You know, things do change over time,” Paul said. “I also wasn’t campaigning for myself [in 2007], I was campaigning to help my father at the time.”
Hours later, he pushed back even harder amid similar foreign policy questions from “Today” host Savannah Guthrie.
“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?’ That would sort of be a better way to approach an interview,” Paul told the NBC journalist.
"There is a certain amount of control in an interview," he said in an interview Wed after the NBC News episode. "I think that there's more editorializing going on than questioning sometimes. And I, frankly, sometimes get annoyed with that. And I don't hide it very well."
Also Wednesday, Paul's patience grew short again in an interview with Philip Eliot of AP on his opposition to abortion rights. When pressed about exceptions if abortion were banned, Paul instead said: "I gave you about a five-minute answer. Put in my five-minute answer."