No sooner did Rand Paul announce his 2016 presidential campaign than he began fielding questions about divisive social issues from eager reporters. These are the types of questions that often trip-up socially conservative candidates if they aren’t prepared to handle the topic off-the-cuff. Paul was able to employ a new tactic which few Republican candidates are able to pull off. He tossed the question back at the reporter and requested that they ask similar questions of Democratic candidates as well.
Report from CNN:
Rand Paul says he doesn’t want to be grilled about abortion until Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz answers similarly tough questions.
Wasserman Schultz hit back — highlighting Paul’s testy interviews with female television anchors, too, by saying she hopes he can “respond without ‘shushing’ me.” But Paul, the Kentucky Republican senator who launched his 2016 presidential campaign this week, said her answer made it sound like she is indeed okay “killing a seven-pound baby.”
Paul, the Kentucky Republican senator who launched his 2016 presidential campaign this week, bristled at a question about abortion while talking with reporters in New Hampshire on Wednesday.
“Why don’t you ask the DNC, ‘Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus?'” Paul said. [Emphasis added]
His comment came after The Associated Press published a report that said Paul had ducked questions about his views on what exceptions — if any — he’d support if abortion were to be banned. Paul has previously supported measures that included exceptions for situations like rape and incest, as well as measures without those exceptions.
In a press conference shortly after the AP’s story was published, Paul said discussions of abortion focus too much on “exact details” on the right, and that Democrats should face similarly complex questions.
These types of questions have become commonplace in recent election cycles with reporters getting sound bites, often with poorly considered or constructed answers, from Republican candidates on social issues. The most famous and often cited case, of course, is Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin in 2012.
In this instance, Paul may have figured out a better way to handle the topic by asking for equal treatment and pointing out that Democrats are rarely put on the spot to answer questions such as when they believe life begins, or how many genders they are.
The bigger question that I see here is how his pro-life advocacy will play among the libertarian base. His father also spoke strongly on the sanctity of life and that didn’t seem to bother his core supporters so perhaps Rand will play out the same.