It’s day three of Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign, and he’s been showing a short temper with some select targets — the mainstream media, the Democratic National Committee and a congressional colleague.
While these incidents might not do much for his likability in the long run, the testiness may not be all bad for his primary campaign. But even he told CNN Wednesday he thinks he should “have more patience” and “get better at holding my tongue and holding my temper.” He didn’t agree, however, that his targets are selective: “I think I’m pretty equal opportunity,” he said, adding that he’s been “universally short-tempered and testy” with reporters.
Paul follows a long line of politicians who have lost their cool in the public eye, especially at the media. In a 2012 debate, Newt Gingrich was asked by CNN’s John King about his ex-wife’s allegation that he asked her to have an open marriage.
Gingrich dug into King. “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office,” he said to raucous applause. “I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.”
Here are three testy moments from Rand Paul this week:
1. Views on Foreign Policy
The morning after his official presidential announcement, Paul was asked by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie whether his views on foreign policy have changed.
“You once say Iran was not a threat; now you say it is,” Guthrie began. “You once proposed ending foreign aid to Israel; you now support it at least for the time being.”
As she started mentioning his shift on defense spending, Paul interrupted: “Why don’t we let me explain instead of talking all over me?”
Guthrie then rephrased her question — as he had asked: “Have you changed your opinion? Is Iran still not a threat?” Guthrie queried.
Paul jumped back in, eight times for emphasis: “no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…”
The incident reignited accusations that Paul is especially testy with female journalists, reminiscent of a February interview with CNBC anchor Kelly Evans when he shushed her and told her her to calm down as she questioned him on a proposed corporate tax holiday.
For the record, Paul told CNN, “I think I’ve been universally short tempered and testy with both male and female reporters.”
In an interview Wednesday, the Associated Press pushed Paul on whether his opposition to abortion rights would include exceptions in cases of rape, incest or risk of life to the mother.
The AP wrote, “Paul grew testy when pressed in the interview on the question of exceptions.”
“I gave you about a five-minute answer,” Paul said. “Put in my five-minute answer.”
3. Abortion, Again
While answering questions in New Hampshire Wednesday, Paul was asked again about exemptions and about his comments to the AP, which had been picked up by the Democratic National Committee.
“Why don’t we ask the DNC, is it O.K. to kill a 7-pound baby in the uterus?” he replied.
Paul also hit at DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “You go back, and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s O.K. with killing a 7-pound baby that is just not yet born yet,” he said. “Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when she’s willing to protect life.”