DENVER -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), hit back at Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski Tuesday after the meticulous reporter challenged the veracity of quotes used in Paul's newest book. In a plaintive open letter, Kaczynski and reporter Megan Apper said that "Our Presidents & Their Prayers," co-authored by Paul, quotes a "National Prayer of Peace" that Thomas Jefferson never wrote, as well as a homily that Abraham Lincoln scholars deny he actually said.
"That guy," Paul said dismissively, referring to Kaczynski. "The only criticisms have come from some guy who’s a partisan. We discount partisans. However, there’s a ridiculous cottage industry out there of people who think they’re smarter than everyone else, and because certain quotes are disputed – well, yeah! If you want to say something’s not a Thomas Jefferson quote, you can get a whole book on whether it’s a quote or not."
Kacynzski has challenged Paul's research since 2013, when the senator began raising his profile as a Republican reformer. After the Buzzfeed reporter found language in one of Paul's books (and several speeches) that mirrored language published by think tanks and Wikipedia, the senator's staff started including citations in the printed versions of his remarks. That practice ceased after a while; Paul's irritation did not.
"I mean, this idiot says the same thing about my speeches," Paul said. "Do I need to say in my speech, 'as many people attribute to Thomas Jefferson, but some people dispute,' before I give the quote? It’s idiocy, it’s pedantry – it’s ridiculous stuff from partisan hacks. And I’d say that guy’s one of ‘em."
Wednesday's debate will also pit Paul (and his rivals) against CNBC reporter John Harwood, whose 2013 questions about an aide who'd published revanchist pro-Confederacy columns irritated Paul so much that he almost terminated the interview. But Buzzfeed's quote sleuth had earned a special sort of disdain.
"He's not on my good list," Paul said of Kaczysnki.
[Update: This article originally attributed a comment Paul made about Kaczynski as one he was making about Harwood. While the Washington Post asked about Harwood, the environment was noisy; Paul misheard the question, and was referring to the Buzzfeed reporter.]