Rand Paul backs RNC pressure on networks

Paul called the demand from Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus “reasonable” in an interview on Geraldo Rivera’s radio show and said it raised larger questions about the impartiality of debate moderators and if GOP candidates could get a “fair shake.”

Priebus vowed earlier this week to block NBC and CNN from moderating GOP debates if they continue ahead with film projects about Clinton, who is seen as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination if she runs in 2016. 

Paul, who has said he is also weighing a 2016 bid, took aim at George Stephanopoulos — who works for ABC News and moderated a GOP debate last election, pointing to his work in former President Clinton’s White House.

“You wonder if there was a concerted action between a former Democrat operative and basically the president’s campaign,” Paul said.

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In one of the 23 GOP debates last year, Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney whether states have a constitutional right to ban contraception based on an earlier Supreme Court ruling. 

Romney took issue with the question, arguing that no state was attempting to ban contraception. Another GOP candidate, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), however, had raised that issue on the campaign trail. 

Paul said the debate exchange between Stephanopolous and Romney had helped President Obama, whose campaign began running ads hitting Romney on women’s health and contraception.

“I’m saying it makes you wonder,” Paul said Wednesday. “And [Stephanopoulos] has also said publicly that he has frequent correspondence with friends who are still involved with the White House. So the question is are you going to get a fair shake, and I think it is a reasonable question for Republicans to ask.”

Paul said Obama got a “free pass” during the GOP primary process because he was unopposed for the Democratic nomination while Republicans went through a long, drawn-out battle. 

Paul said the 2016 nomination fight could see the same dynamic, with Clinton the clear favorite and the GOP field still unsettled.

“The primary really is about Republicans and Democrats, and I think it is not unreasonable to say that we shouldn’t subject our candidates ... to withering cross examination and pitting one Republican against another 25 times in front of hostile moderators while President Obama got a free pass,” said Paul.