Rand Paul stands behind a chair, looking away nervously.

Rand Paul Was a No-Show for Debate, Chose To Release a Dog-Whistling Attack Ad Instead

As the midterm elections loom ever nearer, we’re entering into debate season. Someone should probably make sure Rand Paul is aware.

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Paul—one of two terrible, obstructionist, narcissistic Republican senators from Kentucky—was scheduled to debate his Democratic opponent Charles Booker Wednesday evening, but he was a no-show.

Rather than show up to answer actual questions and have anything resembling a meaningful exchange of ideas with Booker, Rand chose to run a huge dog-whistle of an ad instead.

According to local news outlet WFPL, Rand launched a new ad just a few hours before the scheduled debate. It’s a three-minute video “showing the senator’s recent violent encounters – a man opened fire on a congressional baseball practice attended by Paul in 2017, and Paul’s former neighbor tackled him later that year, breaking several ribs. The video also included footage from when protesters accosted Paul and his wife Kelley near the White House.”

Rand’s intention is clearly to tie Booker to those acts, with a narrator stating, “While Senator Rand Paul has been dealing with violence and threats, his opponent Charles Booker embraces those who have engaged or glorified such violence.”

As a reminder—or in case you missed it the first time around—Paul claimed he was “attacked” by a “crazed mob” of “over 100” people following an appearance at the Republican National Convention in 2020. On Twitter, he thanked the DC police for “literally saving our lives.” Unfortunately for Paul, there was video of the encounter, which shows a small crowd in which the reporters clearly outnumber the protesters, none of whom are touching Paul. They’re chanting “say her name,” a demand that he acknowledge Breonna Taylor, who was murdered by police in Paul’s home state of Kentucky.

As for the attack perpetrated by Paul’s neighbor, that was part of a dispute the two had over an issue with their yards. It’s truly bizarre that Paul would try to link it to Booker or any sort of systemic violence.

In the ad, Paul accused Booker of wanting to “defund the police.” During the debate that he showed up for, Booker says this (unfortunately) isn’t true. He said he does support increased funding for other community safety programs.

“That means we work with law enforcement, we work with faith leaders, we work with philanthropy, we work with business, we work with folks on the ground to address the social determinants of health, and actually invest in dealing with the root causes of crime,” he said.

Booker also called Paul out for the ways in which he “stokes racism and division” by making those sorts of accusations.

“He’s really blowing the dog whistle,” Booker said. “Rand Paul wants people to look at the color of my skin instead of my record. That’s why he keeps using those words over and over again.”

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.