Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday tried to explain his behavior in a recent viral video, claiming he wasn’t trying to duck a debate with immigration-rights advocates.
A video posted online Monday showed Paul getting up from a table during a recent event in Iowa after two illegal immigrants approached Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to confront him over his stance on immigration reform.
“About five minutes before that, or two minutes before that, the video doesn't show that another reporter came up and said, 'Will you do an interview?'" Paul said in an interview on Fox News. "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 10 feet from those people who were doing sort of a kamikaze interview, and I stood 10 feet from them and did another interview," he continued.
Sergio Gor, a Paul spokesman, said in an email that the interview was with "local Iowa media,” but that reporters from The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News and CNN listened in.
Paul said that he is not trying to avoid a debate over immigration.
"I've always been open to discussing immigration," he said. "I'm very open to discussing that I think there should be some kind of immigration reform.
But I think you can’t do it without first securing the border, and that's the problem with the president doing this unlawfully, the president doing this on his own act: 'Oh, I will act. I will make this choice because people will not act,' and saying he uses a pen and a phone,” he continued.
“I am very much opposed to the president making a policy instead of saying 'Congress makes the laws.' He gets to sign them," said Paul.
In the video, two people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children approached King. The video showed a man near Paul, motioning to the senator, who then stood up and moved away.
King stayed and spoke to the activists for five minutes.
Paul is weighing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
This story was updated at 12:13 p.m.