Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul dismissed allegations that he plagiarized from sources like the Associated Press and Wikipedia in his public statements, saying he couldn’t be expected to footnote his speeches.
“The footnote police have been dogging me for the last week,” Paul said on Sunday’s “This Week” on ABC. “And I will admit that. And I will admit that sometimes we haven’t footnoted things properly. In fact, I have given thousands of speeches and I don’t think I have ever footnoted any of those speeches. In the speech in question I quoted from ‘1984,’ ‘Gattaca,’ ‘My Left Foot,’ Michelangelo, Einstein, and Ray Bradbury, among maybe a dozen others. And I attributed everything to them. But I didn’t get into secondary sources saying, I quoted Einstein as according to an AP story or as according to Wikipedia. So I think the spoken word shouldn’t be held to the same sort of standard that you have if you’re giving a scientific paper. I have written scientific papers. I know how to footnote things.”
“We have never footnoted speeches, and if that’s the standard I’m going to held to, yes, we will change and we’ll footnote things,” Paul continued. “Everything in that paper, if I presented it for an academic publication, would have had footnotes next to it. In some of the other things that are now going to pop up, under thousands of things I’ve written — yeah, there are times when it’s been sloppy or not correct and we made an error. But the difference is, I take it as an insult, and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting. I have never intentionally done so. But I say, if dueling were legal in Kentucky — if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I won’t do that because I can’t hold office in Kentucky.”
Host George Stephanopoulos asked Paul how he intended to rebut the allegations, to which Paul said he’ll try to attribute things accurately.
“We’re going to have to footnote things,” he replied. “Like I say — but here’s the problem, George, 98 percent of my speeches are extemporaneous. I spoke for 13 hours on the floor, extemporaneous. And so, it’s a little bit hard to footnote things accurately. And I’ll give you an example — I love the quote from Niles Ferguson, you know, referring to the president saying the deficit is declining and now Ferguson says, yeah, from super-enormous, to really, really gigantic. And I love the quote. But, is that enough? Do I have to say, as I heard or as I read on an AP story about Ferguson? Or as I heard when he was on with George Stephanopoulos? I mean, there’s sort of a certain degree when we’re going to say, is that nitpicking? Is referring to the person enough, or do I have to refer to the original source where I got the quote from a person? In an academic paper, even if you paraphrase something, don’t even use the same words, anything that is paraphrased has to be sourced. So, when I wrote scientific papers, I sometimes had statements with eight footnotes for one sentence. Is that what you want me to do for my speeches? If it’s required, I’ll do it. But I think I’m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters, and I’m just not going to put up with people casting aspersions on my character.”