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Aug 11, 2015 11:21 PM

Steinhauser: In NH1 News intv., Paul questions whether Trump is 'even a Republican'

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – As he fights back against media stories depicting his presidential campaign, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is firing away at Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump was for Obamacare before he was against Obamacare. He was a Democrat before he was a Republican. I guess my question is can we sincerely believe that he is a conservative or is he even a Republican? He says he isn’t necessarily going to support the nominee. He gave a $100,000 to Hillary Clinton. Where do his loyalties lie,” Paul said Tuesday in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News.

“What is his real philosophy? I think these are important questions to ask and I think that it’s not enough to just to sort of be vulgar and say that people are stupid or they are fat. Those aren’t really substantive answers to the question of the day. And I think a lot of conservatives are wondering can they really trust that he’s a conservative,” Paul added.

The Republican presidential candidate spoke with NH1 News one day after holding a conference call to slam Trump. Paul’s attacks on Trump began in earnest on Thursday, at the first GOP presidential debate in Cleveland.

In his interview with NH1 News, Paul touted polling that indicated he would fare better than Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical 2016 general election showdown.

“We think really the untold story that’s out there is that Donald Trump couldn’t win dog catcher in the general election. Right now he’s temporarily doing well in the Republican primary, but I’m the only candidate that beats Hillary Clinton in five states won by President Obama, including New Hampshire. So it is very important that the Republicans decide to get a nominee who can actually win. I think he’s so alienated women with his comments that I just can’t imagine that he has any chance of beating Hillary Clinton and so anybody who thinks they want to vote for him ought to think about whether they’re voting for a loser,” Paul said.

After Paul’s conference call Monday, Trump tweeted “truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!”

Asked about that tweet, Paul said “I’m guessing, that his kids never worked a minimum wage job, alright. All three of my kids work in minimum wage jobs. One of them delivers pizza. So I think that we really lead an existence that is not really spoiled at all. And I think that we can relate to a lot of the rest of America who’s kids work and know what it’s like to have a paying job.”

Trump also tweeted “why is @RandPaul allowed to take advantage of the people of Kentucky by running for Senator and Pres. Why should Kentucky be back up plan?”

Trump was referring to Paul’s move to run for president and for re-election next year.

Kentucky Republicans meet on August 22 to vote on whether to replace their primary with a caucus. Under Kentucky law a candidate can’t seek two offices on the same state ballot. If the state GOP changes the Senate primary to a caucus, that would allow Paul to appear on the ballot just once, for president, with a caucus giving him the Republican Senate nomination for a 2016 re-election bid. But what was once considered a sure thing by the state party is now up in the air.

But Paul disagreed, saying that “we’ve found that Kentucky Republicans have been very supportive of this. Paul Ryan ran for both vice president and congress last time around. So all we’re asking is for the same and equal treatment that everybody has around the United States.”

Paul: "Up is better than down"

When Paul launched his presidential campaign in April, he was considered one of the frontrunners for the nomination. But his poll numbers have deteriorated in both the first-in-the-nation primary state and in Iowa, which holds the first caucus. A new Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald survey conducted after the GOP debate and released Tuesday indicated Paul in sixth place among likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, at 6%.

Asked about the polls, Paul said “up is better than down. That’s for sure. You know, there’s more candidates. You divide the vote 16 ways, your number will probably be smaller. I think good hardcore grassroots, day in, day out, we have a headquarters. We make phone calls. We send mail to people. I go to rallies all around the state and so it’s just good hard work and we’ll see where the chips lay in a few months.”

Paul’s father, former longtime Rep. Ron Paul of Texas finished a strong second in the 2012 Republican primary in the Granite State, grabbing nearly 23% of the vote. Asked if we’ll see his father joining him on the campaign trail, the younger Paul quickly responded “maybe. Don’t know. We’ll see how it goes over time. But we are going to do everything we can. We think New Hampshire very important.”

Paul spoke with NH1 News at the Barley House in downtown Concord, minutes before sitting down for the “Pints and Politics” radio series. Paul started his day speaking at the latest edition of “Politics and Eggs” at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. Paul then spoke to supporters at Riley’s Sports Shop in Hooksett, a gun store that’s a popular stop for Republican White House hopefuls. Paul then greeted lunchtime customers at the Corner View Restaurant in Concord.

Paul ended the day with a town hall in Claremont. Tuesday’s events were the first of the three-day swing in New Hampshire for Paul.

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