Let's recap the last eight hours for Rand Paul:
3) Speaks with the Associated Press about abortion, declines (for some reason) to say where he draws the line on exceptions like rape, incest and life of the mother.
Of course, as a presidential candidate constantly followed by the media, Paul wasn't going to be able to keep avoiding the abortion question. But he had a plan. So at a media availability in which he was asked the abortion question again, he....
4) Challenged the Democratic National Committee to say where it comes down on abortion and declared he would answer the question after that.
Here's the video from Dave Weigel:
Well, Paul got what he wished for. Here's the response from Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.):
Here’s an answer. I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. Now your turn, Senator Paul. ... And I’d appreciate it if you could respond without ’shushing’ me.
Points to Wasserman Schultz here for the "shushing" reference (Paul drew heat for shushing a female CNBC anchor in the clip linked above). But otherwise, this might not be the best strategy.
As CNN's Chris Moody noted, Wasserman Schultz's response suggests all abortions should be legal, which is a position even many/most Democrats don't support.
Is there consensus within the Democratic Party that abortion should be legal up to the moment of birth? https://t.co/2NiYDv0DG5— Chris Moody (@moody) April 8, 2015
Gallup polling has shown between 25 and 30 percent of Americans support abortion under any circumstances. But that number drops to 14 percent when you ask whether it should also be legal in the third trimester (it is generally legal through 24 weeks, per Roe v. Wade, though some states are attempting to shorten the window and some states allow longer windows).
Of course, now this means Paul has put the onus on himself to actually respond to the question. Which we're not sure why he didn't do before, because it's something he'll have to answer as a Republican Presidential Candidate. (It's also sort of hard to imagine that he NEVER had to answer that very common question during his run Senate in 2010.) Taking a position on abortion is kind of part of the deal if you are going to be a politician.
But at least now we're talking about where Democrats stand on the issue which, if you're Paul, is a better spot than you started the day in. (Of course, this whole thing was of his making and didn't need to be a thing in the first place.)
If nothing else, the way Rand Paul's first day on the trail as a presidential candidate ended demonstrates that, while at times thin-skinned and unapologetic, he's still going to be a fascinating candidate to watch.
Correction: This post initially said abortion was illegal in the third trimester. It is generally legal before 24 weeks, but it varies by state.