Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is unavailable for comment. Again.
The senator's presidential campaign first declined Saturday to lay out his position on whether the Confederate flag should be removed from South Carolina's state Capitol grounds. When asked by The Washington Post Monday afternoon if he agreed with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's (R) assertion that the flag should go, Paul's campaign again said he was unavailable -- even as many of his GOP rivals rushed to back the governor's position.
It may be an uncommon approach. But it's not uncommon for Paul, who has delayed or avoided comment on several controversial subjects this year.
In March, when Paul was asked to weigh in on Indiana's controversial religious freedom law, spokespeople told reporters he would not reachable for a response -- not just that day, but for the rest of the week. At least, not on that subject.
"Senator Paul is off the grid this week with his family, he's done zero interviews and has not weighed in on this issue. At this time our office is unable to provide a comment," Gor wrote to The Washington Post in March when queried about the religious freedom law.
Paul, who announced his presidential campaign the following week, was vacationing with his family in Florida. He wasn't entirely isolated: the then-presumptive candidate was able to address a fundraising dinner there and speak to a reporter for the Northwest Florida Daily News, while his spokespeople answered media questions on other issues.
And as the week before Paul's official presidential announcement arrived, so too did questions about Iranian nuclear negotiations. Once again, the senator avoided weighing in on the contentious issue for several days, even as he continued to be available on other subjects.
Finally, the day before his official campaign launch, Paul's team responded to days' worth of queries about whether the senator supported the framework for a nuclear deal the Obama administration hammered out with Iran -- and if that meant he'd reversed his 2007 position that Iran was a threat to the United States.
Their response then: It was still too soon for the senator to reveal his position.
"We don't know the details of the deal yet," said Doug Stafford, a spokesman for Paul's PAC at the time, told Bloomberg. "Senator Paul will be watching closely and believes any deal must make clear Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, allows for full verification and is approved by Congress. He voted for sanctions both times they were put before Congress and believes only Congress should remove those sanctions."
On the flag issue, at least, it seemed the wait might not take quite that long.
"Senator Paul is out of pocket, but I'm sure will weigh in tomorrow," Paul spokesman Sergio Gor wrote in an e-mail Monday.
Update, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday: We have comment.
"I think the flag is inescapably a symbol of human bondage and slavery," Paul said in a Tuesday morning radio interview with told host Jeff Kuhner on WKRO. "And particularly when people use it obviously for murder and to justify hatred so vicious that you would kill somebody, I think that that symbolism needs to end, and I think South Carolina is doing the right thing...
“Obviously it’s a decision for South Carolina to make, but if I were in South Carolina, that’s what I would vote to do, and that’s what I would recommend to anyone who asked me my opinion," he added. "...There have been people who used it for Southern pride and heritage and all of that, but really to I think to every African-American in the country it’s a symbolism of slavery to them and now it’s a symbol of murder for this young man and so I think it’s…time to put it in a museum.”