Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul lambasted a radio reporter Tuesday after he was asked repeated questions about his connection to an aide who resigned last month after it was revealed he had a history of neoconfederate sympathies.
During an interview on National Public Radio’s "On Point," reporter John Harwood asked Paul about Jack Hunter, a former social media director in Paul’s Senate office whose past pro-secessionist views were detailed in a June report in the Washington Free Beacon. Paul initially answered the questions, but he interrupted the reporter when he was asked to respond to an editorial in The Economist that aimed to tie libertarian figures to “racist and nativist movements.”
"Don't you have anything better — don't you have something better to read than a bunch of crap from people who don't like me? That won't make for much of an interview if I have to sit through ... recitation of people calling me a racist,” Paul said, clearly agitated about the line of questions. “I don't accept all of that, and I don't really need to or spend the time talking about all of that. If you want to talk about issues and what I stand for, I'm happy to, but I'm not going to go through an interview reciting or respond to every yahoo in the world who wants to throw up a canard."
Paul continued: “Why don't we talk about Rand Paul and what I'm trying to do about growing the party, and then we might have an intelligent discussion?”
“Well, I am,” Harwood replied. “But he is someone who wrote a book with you.” (Hunter contributed to Paul’s 2010 book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington."
“Well you’re not,” Paul said. “You think you want to dwell on something and you want to dwell on critical articles of people who don’t like me and don’t support any libertarian ideals.”
The interviewer moved on to other topics, but the exchange highlights that Paul, who has worked hard to engage minority voters in recent months, clearly wants to move on from the Hunter kerfuffle.
Hunter’s legacy has hampered Paul’s campaign to make the Republican Party more welcoming to black and Hispanic voters.
In a recent interview with Yahoo News in Des Moines, Iowa, where Paul was meeting with evangelical pastors and examining a possible presidential run, he acknowledged that the revelations about Hunter were a setback to his effort, but he was adamant that the attacks had encouraged him to continue.
“I’m not easily dissuaded,” Paul told Yahoo News. “So it’s not something that makes me shrink away, it makes me come out even stronger to say that I don’t think there’s anyone in Congress who has a stronger belief in minority rights than I do.”
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