Rand Paul: Latest GOP Candidate To Trade Courage For Cowardice

June 29, 2010 5:43 pm ET — Alan Pyke

When Rand Paul upset the GOP establishment by winning the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky this spring, he became a national sensation. Paul's instant fame makes sense. Aside from having a famous — notorious, perhaps — libertarian father, Paul has earned a reputation for shooting from the hip in interviews and campaign rallies. Days after his primary victory, his controversial positions on the Civil Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the White House's sharp rhetoric on BP and the Gulf oil spill made national headlines.

His earnest answers to difficult questions made Paul an unusual figure on the political scene, and prompted National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) to call him a "novice" who would develop some polish as time went on. At first that meant avoiding national media. Now, apparently, it means avoiding problematic questions entirely.

Last week a voter asked Paul, "How old is the world?" The formerly-forthright candidate refused to answer, saying "I think I'm just gonna have to pass on that one."

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Paul's conversion from outspoken, unfiltered idealist to muzzled Beltway-style politician is just one example of the GOP pushing candidates to duck the media.

In Nevada, Sharron Angle isn't changing her radical positions on Social Security privatization or forcing rape victims to carry rape babies to term — but she is running through parking lots to get away from reporters.

In Illinois, Rep. Mark Kirk isn't offering any new explanations for his chronic résumé embellishing— but he is fleeing campaign events through the kitchen door to dodge the media.

The GOP seems to have identified a prime threat to its November hopes: the records and views of its candidates.

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