Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has tossed his hat in the ring, and he’s already getting some bad reviews on his press performance. He drew the ire of feminist circles when he shushed CNBC’s Kelly Evans in February over vaccines. He got “testy” with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie who asked about his past remarks about Iran, foreign aid, and Israel. Now, he reportedly stormed out of an interview with the Guardian’s Paul Lewis after being asked about white Republican support on criminal justice reform.
It turns out that it really was more of a walk out; a) he walked out of the interview b) the lights were turned off by a CNN producer and c) Paul had to leave; he had an interview with Dana Bash.
Yet, Lewis threw out the statistic that from a Washington Post/ABC News poll, two out of three white Republicans said the law is applied equally in our system of justice, though it wasn’t released last week–as he reports in his video; it was in December of 2014. He was asking Paul how he plans to convince primary voters to back this initiative; it's a fair question.
Paul could have cited how the issue is polling favorably in Texas. In the Lone Star State, a hub for the Tea Party, Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research released a poll on behalf of Right On Crime showing incredible support among likely Texas voters for criminal justice reform in February:
- 73% of voters in Texas strongly support reforms that would allow non-violent drug offenders found guilty of possession to be sent to a drug treatment program instead of jail.
- Voters agree that we should spend more money on effective treatment programs (61%) rather than spending more money on our prison system (26%).
- 71% of Texans overwhelmingly believe when it comes to truancy, that the criminal justice system should only be involved in severe cases of chronic truancy.
- A majority of voters (57%) support legislation that would update the felony threshold to $1500 and adjust annually based on the rate of inflation.
- A majority (57%) support legislation that would reduce time served, so that they could spend part of their sentence being monitored under community supervision.
Right On Crime is a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation dedicated to finding conservative policies for criminal justice reform. The WPA poll had a sample size of 1,000.
In the end, Lewis admitted that a CNN producer turned off the light, though still dismayed that his interview was cut short from the promised time of six to eight minutes.
In fairness to @RandPaul campaign, they didn't turn off the lights. (A CNN producer did.) Still: a shame he ended interview so abruptly.— Paul Lewis (@PaulLewis) April 10, 2015
. @ZekeJMiller he did get annoyed w the guy but actually we turned lights off when he finished bc our intv was right after in same room— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) April 10, 2015
We didn't turn the lights off and neither did my staff. CNN producers did. It was time for my interview with @DanaBashCNN - Team Rand— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 10, 2015
Bash tweeted to confirm that Sen. Paul wasn’t having another hissy fit, though noted that he was "annoyed." Sen. Paul has admitted that he has a "short temper, which is something that he will have to work on, as saying he gets "testy" with both male and female reporters isn't the best answer to combat his perceived media problem. But this wasn't an instance where he "stormed out" of the room.