An interview with Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWe can put America first by preventing public health disasters Conservative activists want action from Trump McConnell: 'Big challenge' to pass ObamaCare repeal in Senate MORE (R) on Wednesday got testy as the libertarian-leaning Kentucky senator, fresh off launching his presidential campaign, battled suggestions he had changed his views on foreign policy.
Speaking from the early voting state of New Hampshire, Paul clashed with NBC's "Today" show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie over his previous statements on Iran, aid to Israel and defense spending.
"Why don't we let me explain instead of talking over me, OK?" Paul told Guthrie when pressed about his previous statements.
"Before we go through a litany of things you say I've changed on, why don't you ask me a question, 'Have I changed my opinion?' That would be sort of a better way to approach an interview."
"No, no, you've editorialized," Paul said when Guthrie interjected to ask if his views had changed.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no," Paul said. "Listen, you've editorialized."
Asked about his statements in 2007 that Iran wasn't a nuclear threat, Paul acknowledged his position had shifted.
"2007 was a long time ago and events do change over long periods of time. So we're talking about 8 years ago. We're talking about a time when I wasn't running for office and I was helping someone else run for office," he said.
"There has always been a threat around gaining nuclear weapons and that's greater now than it was many years ago."
Paul neither supported nor condemned the framework nuclear agreement reached between the Obama administration and five other world powers and Iran.
"I'm going to keep an open mind and look at the agreement. I do believe that negotiation is better than war," Paul said.
Paul argued that the "sincerity of the Iranians does make a big difference" in the nuclear negotiations.
"And if they're immediately saying that the agreement doesn't mean what President Obama says that is a big problem," Paul said, referring to fact sheets put out by negotiators in announcing the framework deal reached last week.
"The Iranians put out 500 words, the Americans put out 1,300 words, the Europeans put out 200 words. And they don't all seem to agree, but it's very, very little information so far," Paul said.
Paul, who has been exploring a presidential bid for many months, launched his campaign on Tuesday, to be followed by a tour of many states. The Kentucky senator has battled criticism from members of his party over his libertarian positions on foreign policy issues, and has been viewed as taking more hawkish positions leading into his White House bid.
Paul got testy in another interview in February, when he squared off with CNBC host Kelly Evans when discussing his plan for a tax "holiday" for companies bringing back money from overseas, at one point shushing the host.
"Calm down a bit here, Kelly, let me answer the question," Paul said during that interview.
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