Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Tuesday that he didn’t dash away from his meal Monday night at an Iowa fundraiser in order to avoid having a conversation with immigration activists.
A video posted to YouTube shows two immigration activists with the Dream Action Coalition, Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, approaching Paul and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and shaking their hands. Paul is shown being led away from the table, leaving behind a half-eaten hamburger, as soon as Andiola hands her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) card to King and tells him he can rip it up.
“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.”
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.”
The Kentucky Republican said he doesn’t shy away from debate on immigration.
“I’ve always been open to discussing immigration. I’m very open to discussing that I think there should be some kind of immigration reform,” Paul told host Greta Van Susteren. “But I don’t think you can do it without first securing the border, and that’s the problem with the President doing this unlawfully.”
King stayed and spoke with the activists for several minutes. At one point in the video, he grabs Andiola’s wrist and repeatedly insists that she shouldn’t misunderstand his disputed comments about immigrants since she is “very good at English.”
Watch below at the 4:15 mark, courtesy of Fox News:
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.