Politics

Exclusive: Rand Paul talks to TheDC about the Ground Zero mosque, the media, and President Obama

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

No, says the first-time candidate and Tea Party backed insurgent from Kentucky, his parents didn’t name him after the Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand.

“I bet half the articles on the Internet write that I was—well, most of them attempting to disparage me and disparage my parents for naming me that,” says Rand Paul, running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. “But it’s like most other things you read on the Internet. Untrue.”

And that segues into an argument that the champion of free-markets and constitutional conservatism, who is leading Democrat Jack Conway in the polls, repeats several times throughout an interview Monday. “It’s an amazing thing to open up the newspaper for three weeks in a row and see yourself attacked everyday,” he says of the media he argues is after him. “It really is, most of it is just either mischaracterized or just flat out untrue.”

In a discussion with The Daily Caller, Paul spoke candidly about a multitude of topics, including whether he could see himself working across party lines with Democrats, what he thinks of the building of a mosque near ground zero in New York and what he’d discuss with President Obama if he could change his mind on any issue.

On the media

“I think there’s a real lack of journalism ethics out there,” the ophthalmologist from Bowling Green said. “You know, I was always taught that basically you didn’t print anonymous accusations particularly when they hurt someone’s character and were serious. I’m mean accusing someone of a crime, you would think there would be some sort of ethical standard about printing from anonymous sources.”

Paul, of course, is referencing last week’s story in GQ from an anonymous source from Paul’s days at Baylor University who said he and a friend blindfolded her, took her away to another location and forced her to smoke marijuana. Paul denies the story, and says it shows how most journalists are not objective anymore.

“It’s all completely one sided,” he said. “I mean there are thousands of articles printed on me every week now — and do you think anyone is going back and asking my opponent their friends from college? No. Because it’s all an agenda, it’s all left-wing bloggers and left-wing people.”

His relationship with the media has been rocky since defeating Trey Grayson, who was backed by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and viewed as the more establishment Republican, in the primary. He immediately limited his national media interviews following a fiasco caused by appearances on NPR and MSNBC when he expressed views against government — as it did in the the Civil Rights Act — instructing a private business owner what to do. Though he repeatedly said he’s against discrimination of all forms, the media continued to question whether his beliefs were racially insensitive.

“I think it tells more about the people writing it than it does about me,” he said.

Paul says he gets most of his news off the Internet, and reads all the major newspapers in his state, as well as the New York Times and Wall Street journal on occasion. He also has a council of economic advisers that brief him on fiscal issues.