Reporters Notebook on covering the Senate campaign in Kentucky:
Has Rand Paul limited his media availability since controversial comments in May? There is no question that Paul dropped off the media radar for a few weeks after his Civil Rights Act and BP comments. High level Republicans encouraged him to become more disciplined and Paul himself said he would be more careful about to whom he speaks.
The biggest change in my experience covering the Paul campaign is that before the primary, Paul's staff was eager for media coverage and would call to offer Paul up for interviews anywhere and anytime. I do not hear from the Paul campaign as much since the primary. But, Paul has yet to refuse me an interview.
The limited media access to Jack Conway since the primary has been less obvious, because Conway was not embroiled in controversy like Paul, thus was not in as much demand as his Republican counterpart. Conway, in my limited observation, does appear to be less present than before the primary, but generally has been available in the past.
Despite brushing past reporters at a couple of Louisville area events in recent weeks, Paul did not balk when I was waiting for him outside the WHAS Radio studios on Wednesday where he had appeared with Mandy Connell. The only request from his press attache was that I limit my interview to about ten minutes, because he had an event with supporters scheduled, next.
I called Conway's campaign office that same morning asking if he would be available for an interview, including questions about Daniel Mongiardo not taking a position in the senate race. His press secretary said she would check his schedule, but Conway opted against speaking to me that day.
Though I think that candidates for public office have a duty to answer to questions about their policies and character, I understand that my interview request might not necessarily jibe with a candidate's objectives that day. It is a long campaign, and I would expect that those of us covering it for the duration will get our questions answered. Where the national media and observors get impatient is when the local media does not ask the questions they prefer, or ask them when they prefer.
The Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth filed this report on July 1, after Paul declined interviews with the media gaggle at a Tea Party event in Bullitt County:
Following the 14-minute speech, he brushed past a gaggle of television and print reporters and climbed into a sport-utility vehicle without answering questions -- except to acknowledge that despite his call for term limits, he would not voluntarily impose one on himself.
While Paul has kept up a comparatively vigorous speaking schedule in the early days of the general election, his opponent, Democrat Jack Conway has been below the radar, with fewer speaking engagements as he tries to unify the divided Democratic Party and raise money for what is sure to be an expensive fall campaign.