FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The real story on Rand Paul’s Iowa adventure
It is actually pretty humorous. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a presumed candidate for president in 2016, was hosting a fundraiser for Iowa Congressman Steve King. There is a lot to like about Steve King. He’s a solid conservative. But he comes from a very safe district and is prone to voicing some of his more exotic opinions on immigration. His most famous, of course, is on the subject of the DREAM Act that Obama has been trying to ram through Congress:
“For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
This, naturally, makes King a potential target for street theater.
At the aforementioned fundraiser, Steve King was approached by a couple of people, Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, who are active with the illegal immigration advocacy group Dream Action Coalition. There is an exchange between King and Andiola in which she proffers her DACA card to King so he can tear it up and King offers her some less than helpful comments. If you’re in favor of DREAM you think Andiola is a heroine, if you’re not you think King handled himself okay. In other words no blood was drawn and “la migra” didn’t magically appear to give Andiola and Vargas the deportation they seem to crave.
What caught everone’s attention was this:
Gawker screams Watch Rand Paul Run Away From a Mexican Immigrant. (Actually illegal alien, but Gawker often finds language and thinking really hard.) Wonkette titters Watch Steve King Get Schooled By Hero DREAMers, While Rand Paul Bravely Runs Away.
What has happened is that Paul has just received his sandwich. (The gif only shows part of the action. The video and other gifs of the meeting are here.) He takes his first bite at Andiola introduces herself. A man to the left of the frame reaches for Paul and seems to haul him out of the area. That man is a hero. He had the situational awareness of a highly trained commando and an unswerving loyalty to his boss. Anyone with a brain knows you don’t want your boss anywhere near a video camera if Steve King and an illegal alien are going to engage in civil dialog. Nothing good will come of that.
But Paul has this reflexive tendency to deny things. His motto often seems to be “Deny everything. Admit nothing. Blame others. Make counter accusations.” My colleague Leon Wolf documented some of them here. So when asked about the vapor trail marking his exit, the obvious question is why he didn’t say — “Stay in the room when Steve King is discussing immigration with a couple of provocateurs? Do I look stupid?” Nope.
“About two minutes before that, the video doesn’t show that another reporter came up and said ‘will you do an interview,'” Paul explained on Fox News’ “On The Record.” “And I said, ‘I need to take a couple more bites and we’ll do an interview.’ And then I was told we had to leave and I had to do the interview. So actually, I stand about ten feet from those people, who were doing sort of a kamikaze interview, and I stood ten feet from them and did another interview.”
That would be a wonderful explanation if it were true. The hero who steered him out of the area, says they had to leave the event to go to a media availability:
The aide who whisked Paul away from the immigration activists, Sergio Gor, previously told the National Journal that Paul “had a media avail after the event and that’s where we had to be.”
This seems to be a discrepancy. Was he going to a “kamikaze interview”? (I’ve done public relations work for quite a while and this is the first time I’ve heard the expression, guess I have to get out more) Or was he going to a media availability?
If you run the video you see Paul get led from the table by an aid, presumably Gor. This is my timeline:
3:12. You can see Paul in the background, leaning against what looks like the bar, with his back turned, Here we are aided by the distinctive, pastel-rich shirt Paul is wearing. There is a gaggle of people around him.
3:15 You can see what appears to be a camera over Paul’s right shoulder.
3:40 The gaggle breaks up and you can see the cameraman lift the camera from his shoulder.
3:41. Paul and Gor look longingly at their meals, decide there has to be other food to be had in Iowa, and as we said in the infantry, un-ass the area.
So while the improbable denial feeds into the worst stereotypes of Rand Paul, in this case it looks like his story is substantially true. And though the gif circulating is amusing it misrepresents what actually transpired.