If Sen. Rand Paul wanted to keep his base flying high following Tuesday’s presidential announcement, then he accomplished his goal. Conservatives love it when one of their own takes on the big bad liberal media.
But if he wanted to build momentum with undecided voters, especially women, then he failed.
This pains me to write because I do “Stand with Rand” on most issues. But here’s the truth: TV is about likeability. And to the person who knows very little about Paul and was getting to know him for the first time, yesterday’s display made him seem pretty unlikeable.
Be a Happy Warrior
Nothing is fair about TV. There isn’t much time to state your case (segments are an average of five minutes), you don’t know what questions you’ll be asked, and a good host is supposed to play devil’s advocate.
Regardless, you’re a guest on someone’s show. And a level of decorum is expected—don’t interrupt, don’t accuse the host and keep your cool. All of which Paul failed to do when interviewed on the “Today” show.
While the interview started off well, Paul quickly accused Today host Savannah Guthrie of “editorializing,” chided her for interrupting, and lectured her on what questions she should have asked. All the while, she kept her smile and pleasant demeanor.
As Matt Lewis, senior contributor at The Daily Caller, noted, “Savannah Guthrie Was Just Doing Her Job.”
Does this mean Paul can’t stand up for himself? Absolutely not! It is important to say what you want to say. But you can (and should) do so without insulting the host, and with a tone that inspires rather than polarizes. Ever heard the phrase “Happy Warrior?”
Defend Instead of Attack
But Guthrie wasn’t the only female he called out this week. (Although New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters tweeted, “Rand patronizing women reporters is a catty, clever DNC [Democratic National Committee] line. But it’s not accurate. I can attest. So can @JohnJHarwood & @Philip_Elliott,” suggesting Paul’s an equal opportunity offender of the media.) Paul also took on Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., during a press conference in New Hampshire … even though she wasn’t in attendance.
The questions were mostly focused on Iran, but the final question was by NH1 reporter Paul Steinhauser. He asked Paul about his position on abortion exemptions. Paul’s answer concluded with, “[You] go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s OK with killing a seven-pound baby that is not yet born.”
The Democratic National Committee chair has already responded by saying, “Here’s an answer—I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story … And I’d appreciate it if you could respond without ‘shushing’ me.”
While I agree with Paul’s stance on abortion, his answer became a larger issue when he attacked a person and, in doing so, potentially offended many women.
Does this mean Paul shouldn’t stand up for life? Absolutely not! But instead of attacking a person, attack the issue. Focus on the baby and the importance of granting the right to life to everyone. He wasted the opportunity to talk about late term abortions, a practice most Americans agree is wrong.
So, how did Paul do yesterday? Again, it depends on his goal. But I highly doubt he wanted Wednesday’s interviews to be about shushing women and late-term abortions.