Ron Paul’s relationship with press getting testy

at 03:38 PM ET, 01/09/2012

For months, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his supporters complained about being ignored by the mainstream media despite his strong poll numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire. Now that the press is all over him, the iconoclastic candidate appears to be struggling with the onslaught of attention.

On Monday morning, Paul cut off an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash while campaign manager Jesse Benton shouted at the journalist.

“We have a very friendly relation with Ms. Bash and have a good history with her,” Benton told The Fix. “Staff simply ended an  interview today after a few questions so we could begin our event on time.”

A few hours earlier, Paul left a diner in Manchester early, without answering questions. Reporters chased him to his car.

The press “created a mob-like atmosphere that was deemed to be unsafe,” Benton in a statement on the diner event. “Mrs. Paul herself, attempting to campaign alongside her husband, was shoved aside by one reporter and told to ‘get out of the way.’”

Monday’s twin episodes aren’t the first examples of Paul’s somewhat testy relationship with the media. Paul abruptly ended an interview with CNN’s Gloria Borger* in late December while she pressed him on racist, conspiracy-minded stories that went out in newsletters under his name.

“Goodbye,” he said, taking off his microphone as Borger asked about racist newsletters that carried his name.

In both CNN interviews, Paul blamed the press for creating the controversy in question.

Officials also closed off entry to a Paul town hall in the basement of an upscale resort in Meredith, N.H., on Sunday after the event reached capacity. More than 350 people were in the room for the Paul event, roughly a third of whom were members of the media.

The atmosphere at the event was decidedly media-friendly, however. After the town hall, the candidate held a press availability with the assembled reporters and camera crews, and a Paul staffer called on journalists by name.

But Politico reported a few weeks ago that Paul has been tightening press access to cut out young network “embeds” who trail candidates with video cameras.

It’s an adjustment to go from all-but-ignored to being the center of attention, and Paul’s campaign is obviously still working out the kinks.

Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.

* This post initially misspelled Gloria Borger’s last name as Bolger.

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