Why is Rand Paul joining Donald Trump's rigged election talk?

Suddenly, Rand Paul appears concerned about voter suppression

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published October 27, 2016 11:33AM (EDT)

Despite calling Donald Trump a "delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag" when he laughably tried to run against him in the GOP presidential primary, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has supported the Republican Party's nominee through thick and thin.

And so, when he was asked about the GOP nominee's claims that there would be voter fraud on Nov. 8, Paul toed the party line.

"I think sometimes polling is done to dampen election turnout," the failed presidential nominee told a local West Virginia radio program Wednesday. In remarks first flagged by CNN, Paul told "The Tom Roten Morning Show" on WVHU that he does "think that when we say over and over someone can't win that is a form of rigging in the sense that it is designed to suppress turnout."

Paul blamed the media for rigging the election against Trump by reporting poll numbers that show him losing to rival Hillary Clinton.

"I think some of that is intentional. The polls are put out, you know to make it either look closer than it is or to make it look like Democrats have a better chance. And I think it's done by design to try to dampen turnout," he said.

Paul's comments on Wednesday were a big step toward the conspiratorial. Just last week, he said that he didn't "know what that means actually," when he was asked Trump's conspiratorial talk of a "rigged election."

But while Paul is often heralded as a reasonable Republican on voting rights, he's previously denied voter suppression in other instances.

"I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer," the Kentucky senator said in 2013.

And it isn't just talk of rigged elections that Paul is parroting from Trump. Paul also jumped to Trump's defense when a tape was leaked that showed the loudmouth making comments in 2005 about assaulting women and getting away with it because he was a celebrity as "locker room talk."

"The media is heaping it on him sort of on this locker room talk and the stuff he was involved with, because they seem to turn a blind eye toward Bill Clinton who was actually doing things that were lewd and vulgar in the White House, in the oval office," Paul said.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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