MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News on Wednesday that former Sen. Scott Brown is right to have concerns over ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos being the debate moderator on Thursday night.
“I don’t think this would be the first time his [Stephanopoulos’] impartiality has been questioned,” Paul said in a phone interview. “If you go back to the previous presidential debates, many people have brought up that the whole questioning about birth control was originated as a campaign theme by Stephanopoulos and there’s questions about whether that was done in coordination with Democrats.
“It’s always hard to have someone be perceived as an objective arbiter on a debate if they spent most of their life as a partisan.”
On Wednesday morning, Brown said he had “concerns” over Stephanopoulos being the debate moderator in the wake of a report from Breitbart News that a top campaign adviser to incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has longtime ties to the former Bill Clinton campaign official and White House adviser.
That appearance from Brown on Fox News came before a second report from Breitbart News that shows Stephanopoulos was actually sent as Clinton’s emissary to accept Shaheen’s and other Democratic women’s endorsement of his re-election campaign in 1996. Stephanopoulos then served as a “senior adviser” to the president. The exchange is on video, captured by C-SPAN at the time.
An ABC News spokesperson hasn’t responded to a request for comment about Paul’s comments on Stephanopoulos.
Paul raising concerns about Stephanopoulos comes at a time when the former Clinton operative is aiming to rehabilitate his image as a newsman. Last presidential cycle, as Paul noted, Stephanopoulos sowed the seeds of the “war on women” campaign theme that helped incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in the general election by inserting contraception questions into a GOP primary debate when no candidate had made the issue part of his or her platform.
Scrutiny for the ABC anchor also comes as Paul and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have made efforts to back up Brown in the final week of the election, something The Hill noted is helping a “surging” Brown.
Paul is in a 15-second advertisement produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce touting Brown, while Rubio wrote an op-ed for the Union Leader backing Brown.
“If you’re a freedom-loving, liberty-loving, leave-me-the-hell-alone voter, I urge you to get out and vote for Scott Brown this Tuesday,” Paul says in the Chamber ad. “To change Washington, change your senator.”
Rubio in the op-ed backed Brown, saying he’s a one-of-a-kind legislator, but also said he’s worked sometimes alongside Shaheen in the Senate.
“She too is a decent person with whom I’ve had a cordial relationship and worked on some issues,” Rubio wrote. “But 99 percent of the time, she has voted for President Obama’s agenda — an agenda that has saddled us with more debt, more uncertainty about the future at home and abroad, but not enough jobs. In this race, Scott Brown is simply a better choice for those like me who are tired of the direction America is headed and are fighting to make sure the American Dream doesn’t slip away forever.”