Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
The Republican presidential primary has only just gotten going and already the candidates are sick and tired of gotcha questions from the media. You know, sneaky, unfair stuff like asking the candidates about their own words.
Ted Cruz has had enough of this nonsense where people check to see if he's telling the truth:
Harwood: You've said a few things that don't necessarily comport with the facts, like, "125,000 I.R.S. agents, send 'em to the border." They've only got 25,000 agents or something like. You've talked about the job-killing nature of Obamacare. We're adding jobs at a very healthy clip right now. Why shouldn't somebody listen to you and say, "The guy'll just say anything - doesn't have to be true"?
Cruz: There is a game that is played by left-wing editorial writers. It's this new species of yellow journalism called politi-fact. Colloquially I was referring to all the employees as agents.
That particular stat is in a joke I used. So, they're literally fact-checking a joke. I say that explicitly tongue in cheek.
Oh, see, colloquially I was using the scary-sounding term "agents" to stand in for agents, receptionists, clerical staff, janitors, paper pushers, and number crunchers, and it was all a joke anyway, so it's illegitimate to point out that my innocent little joke making a serious political point
was premised on misinformation.
It's a good strategy for wooing the Republican base, though—say all kinds of outrageous stuff, then insist it was all a joke anyway, so if reporters call you out on it, it's yellow journalism by left-wing editorial writers. Cruz could never be held accountable for anything he says under this theory.
For his part, Rand Paul spent the first day of his official candidacy testily explaining to reporters that nothing he said before about 2009, when he began running for office, is in any way relevant to his presidential run now and so it's all off limits. In one case, he even claimed that something he said in 2009 was said in 2007, pushing it back out of the acceptable-to-ask category, per his rules. This from the man who's been trying to run against Hillary Clinton based on things her husband did in the 1990s.
For guys gearing up to run on accountability for everyone else, "it's not fair to ask me about that stuff I said" is an interesting and nervy approach to dealing with the media. But the truth is, it is likely to appeal to a Republican base strongly rooted in the victim mentality.