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The first time Rachel Maddow interviewed Rand Paul

I made this point this morning, but the reason Rand Paul was shellshocked by the difficulty Rachel Maddow gave him this week was that, in 2009, he was treated much differently by liberals looking to understand divisions in the GOP.

I went back for the transcript for the May 14, 2009 episode of Maddow's show, which featured Paul, to give an idea of how much different the tone was. Here were Maddow's questions.

- I want to start by asking you the same question I asked your father the last time he was on this show. I want to ask you if you agree with that assessment of the Republican Party I just laid out, that there‘s some turmoil right now over the party‘s identity.
-- I have talked about this a number of times on this show and I‘ve hosted your father a couple of times on this show because I felt like I saw some real mojo in the Republican Party around his presidential campaign. What do you think was behind the popularity of that campaign and the renewed interest in his ideas that we‘re seeing right now among Republicans?
-- Speaking of which, Dr. Paul, I understand that you yourself have some political ambitions. I was hoping you might talk about those tonight on this show.
-- Now, you have said in the past that you were waiting to decide whether or not to run based on whether or not the incumbent senator in your state, Jim Bunning, was going to decide to retire. Has that situation changed? Are you willing to run against Sen. Bunning if he stays in?

That's it. Paul had come out of his father's presidential campaign, one that got in trouble for occasionally indulging the extreme right. But no questions about his more out-there views.

Before this Tuesday, Paul had no potential power -- he was just a libertarian critical of the GOP, and as Matt Welch says, "no one loves libertarians more – and more shallowly – than the major party out of power." But on Tuesday night, Paul became a potential senator. "Real mojo" became "oh my goodness, how will he vote in the Senate?" Cue the dramatic, and appropriate, change of focus.

It's still a mystery, though, why Kentucky Republicans barely tried this tack against Paul all year.

By David Weigel  |  May 21, 2010; 4:13 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Libertarians , Media  
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