By Nathan L. Gonzales
If reporters wanted to know whether Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul graduated from Baylor University, they probably should have asked his campaign. That’s what I did, and I got the answer, ten months ago.
Wednesday’s story in the Lexington Herald-Leader “Contrary to some media reports, Rand Paul has no bachelor’s degree” has created quite a stir. Paul’s opponent, Attorney General Jack Conway (D), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are happily sending around the clip in an effort to implicate Paul as the latest politician to exaggerate his resume.
But there is a difference between Paul and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) or Illinois Cong. Mark Kirk (R) who have admitted to rhetorical indiscretions about their resumes. There doesn’t appear to be any hard evidence that Paul misled the media on his Baylor experience. Some members of the media just got it wrong.
“Rand Paul, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Kentucky, holds a medical degree from Duke University but never received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, contrary to several media reports in recent months,” according to the lede of the Herald Leader story.
Here’s what I wrote in the October 2, 2009 edition of the Rothenberg Political Report (subscription only):
“Rand Paul, 46, grew up in Texas, where his father, Ron Paul, has been a member of Congress since the late 70s. Rand Paul attended Baylor University but left before graduating to attend Duke University Medical School. He finished medical school in 1988.”
I received the information from a conversation with Paul’s then-campaign manager David Adams, and as I recall, there was no effort to mislead me.
Obviously, I can’t rule out the possibility that some Paul staffer told some reporter that Rand Paul received a degree from Baylor. But given what a Paul staffer told me ten months ago, the burden of proof would seem to be on those who wrote the wrong information – or took incorrectly reported information and included it in their reporting or materials.
The other question, of course, is whether it will matter to voters at all. Will voters really care that someone who has a medical degree from Duke Medical School doesn’t also have an undergraduate degree from Baylor? At this point, that seems unlikely.