To be clear, I don’t think every candidate is compelled to go on the record on every political issue the press would like to toss in their direction. However, some are simply raising the question as to why Paul, when asked repeatedly, chose to issue no comment on the Indiana religious freedom law while citing his personal vacation as the reason he was unavailable. Some are then pointing out that he was able to release multiple other public comments while on vacation yet chose to remain silent on the topic at hand.
Report from Business Insider:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is the only major Republican likely 2016 presidential candidate who hasn’t weighed in on the controversy over Indiana’s “religious freedom” law that erupted this week — and his explanation for avoiding the issue is questionable.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, spokespeople for Paul responded to questions from reporters by saying he “has not weighed in on the issue” because he was “out of pocket with family this week.” Paul, who is expected to officially launch his campaign on April 7, is currently on a vacation with his family in Florida.
However, while Paul’s team has said this trip has prevented him from weighing in on the “religious freedom” law controversy, he and his aides have issued at least three other public comments during his time in the Sunshine State.
Either Paul doesn’t want to wade into this issue under the current firestorm, which may be a smart move, or he’s simply trying to avoid any negative press prior to his campaign launch coming up this Tuesday, April 7.
After Business Insider sent a subsequent email outlining the public comments Paul and his aides have made during his trip, Stafford said the senator “isn’t closely following” the controversy and has “no comment” on it.
“Spokespeople commenting on old issues and a private fundraiser? That’s him commenting on other matters? That’s a bit of a stretch. He hasn’t read the IN bill, and isn’t closely following something being done on the state level, especially during his time with his family this week,” Stafford wrote. “Therefore we have no comment at this time. I am sure he will have plenty of opportunities to answer everyone’s questions very soon.”
The “religious freedom” law may be a sticky subject for Paul. In the past, he has had difficulty balancing his libertarian leanings and supporting the right to discriminate.
Given the various factions to which Paul is trying to appeal for his 2016 presidential run, I’d agree with saying he has a difficult balancing act ahead of him. In some ways, Paul’s answer on the RFRA, no matter what he says, is a trap. It will be either too supportive of religious liberty, or too supportive of libertarian views. He’ll have to come up with an answer, especially since all his opponents were falling over each other to get to the mic.