Rand Paul struggles to get campaign started smoothly

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Sen. Rand Paul‘s first days as a presidential candidate have not gone as planned.A tea party favorite, first-term senator, and son of a three-time presidential candidate, Paul is no stranger to attention. But in opening his campaign, he betrayed a hot temperament that, by his own admission, needs some control.After defensive and dodging media interviews about abortion, Iran, and his shifting views on some issues, he acknowledged, “I will have to get better at holding my tongue and holding my temper.”

His first-day drama and his history in the Senate suggest that might be difficult.

“I think he’s still new at this,” said Andrew Cash, a lawyer in Charleston, S.C., who attended Paul’s rally in the state Thursday. “He’s been around politics for a long time, but it’s his first presidential campaign, and that’s a different beast.”

In his first 24 hours as a contender, Paul lectured an NBC anchor about how to ask a question and told another to print his “five-minute answer” when asked an abortion question that he had answered earlier on a Kentucky Right to Life questionnaire.

He then picked a fight on the issue with the chairwoman of the Democratic Party, hardly a sin in GOP circles but a provocation he might not have needed in his earliest days defining himself as a candidate.

And he asked his campaign attorneys to send a cease-and-desist letter to TV stations running ads critical of his previous statements about Iran. After facing questions about those remarks, Paul turned to lawyers to make the case that the ads did not represent his current views on Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon and should not be aired.

Taken together, it’s clear his transition from Senate iconoclast to GOP candidate has been a rocky one.

“I think we can all get better,” he told Fox News on Wednesday.

That demeanor could be an asset in his quest for the nomination, especially among conservative and libertarian activists.

“Thankfully, our national media doesn’t get to pick and choose our Republican Party’s presidential nominees,” he tweeted.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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