Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign announcement quickly deflated last week when he appeared on The Today Show and tried to explain to Savannah Guthrie how to properly phrase a journalistic question without "editorializing." It was not a good look for Paul, who also faced criticism from Megyn Kelly at his preferred media outlet, Fox News. Now, his wife wants to clear the air. While speaking with the hosts of Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, Kelley Paul insisted her husband is not sexist. In fact, he thinks women are pretty swell.
Kelley tried to deflect questions about her husband's recent media gaffes involving women reporters, telling the Fox & Friends audience that Rand Paul, the real man, is not like Rand Paul, the politician we've come to love watching in CNBC interviews. "That is not who Rand is, at all," Kelley said.
As it turns out, Rand Paul, the real man, is not afraid of women — well, not when they're surgeons. Kelley told Fox & Friends:
Rand’s entire professional career is working with female surgeons. His longtime partner in his ophthalmology practice was a very accomplished high achieving female surgeon. They worked together for ten years. Now she’s a huge political supporter. He goes back to Kentucky and does pro bono work with another very prominent female surgeon. So professionally, personally, he is the type of person who wants to work with somebody and value their talents and ability for who they are.
So, Paul is not sexist because he knows one very accomplished and intelligent woman (who's not Hillary Clinton)? "That label [sexist] upset me," Kelley said.
Although Paul's recent media behavior offended Megyn Kelly — who asked Paul last week if he gets "overly emotional" in TV interviews — he's fortunate that Fox & Friends is OK with shushing financial news anchors over holiday tax numbers. In Steve Doocy's mind, none of Paul's media gaffes even happened, despite there being clear video footage. "You know how it works: The mainstream media is just trying to disqualify him," Doocy told Kelley.
"Yeah," Kelley replied. "Yeah. That's just not who Rand is."
Kelley also appeared on the Today show on Tuesday to discuss the Guthrie incident with host Hoda Kotb. "As a spouse, you always want the person you love to come off the best that they can," Kelley told Kotb. "It's hard for me sometimes to see him being criticized because that's not who he is in terms of his relationships with women."
She added that it's "difficult to be in a situation where I'm being asked about things he's saying or doing." However, Kelley never fully addressed how she felt about that heated exchange between Guthrie and Paul, or if she felt her husband was being disrespectful or condescending toward Guthrie.
Last week, Paul also stepped into it with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz over abortion restrictions, which Paul has been (wisely) evading. But Wasserman Schultz has been steadily pressing Paul after he accused her of being in support of "killing a seven-pound baby." In an interview with MSNBC on Monday, Wasserman Schultz attacked Paul's political ploys, saying:
I answered his question specifically: We support a woman’s right to choose and we don’t support government interference between her and her doctor. The way he tried to characterize that was to deflect and not answer the question he was asked. We still didn’t get an answer.
She added that if Paul thinks abortion, and not the economy, is going to be a central issue of the 2016 election, then he's "more out of touch than I thought."Images: Getty Images (1), Fox News/screenshot