4:10 pm Jan. 9, 20121
STRATHAM, N.H.—Following a chaotic Ron Paul cameo this morning at a restaurant in Manchester, where more than 100 reporters tripped over one another trying to get close to the candidate, and a town hall several hours later in Hollis, where one of his aides excoriated CNN's Dana Bash over a question related to the earlier event, Paul enjoyed a much more subdued appearance this afternoon at the tree-lined national headquarters of the rugged outdoors brand Timberland.
That isn't to say, of course, that Paul's visit, which was not open to the public, was poorly attended by members of the media who have been trailing Paul on his jaunts through the Granite State these past few days.
By the time I arrived around 2:20 p.m., there was a massive CNN satellite truck parked out front, and journalists from CBS News, NBC News, The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe, among other outlets, had already scribbled their names down on the front-desk visitor log. There turned out to be a lot more than that—about two dozen or so, including photographers and camera crews—camped out in the back of a large conference room where Paul was addressing a flannel-heavy crowd of several hundred Timberland employees.
But the event lacked the news-making potential of his earlier two campaign stops (Paul's national campaign chairman blamed reporters for creating a "mob-like atmosphere" at the first one). Both events further underscored Paul's not-always-successful relationship with the media: They're either ignoring the G.O.P. presidential hopeful, or giving him too much unwated attention when things go badly for him.
Here in the corporate offices of Timberland, where Paul stood before a wooden podium placed on a riser in front of the brand's insignia, there was no excessive elbowing or tense exchanges with the press corps. (In fact there were no exchanges with the press corps, including Bash, who had reportedly apologized to Paul following their confrontation.)
But Paul nevertheless managed to take a swing at the media when responding to a question about what he would do as president if Iran blocked the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil artery.
"Check out the reports, because the reports sometimes aren't accurate," he said, referring to dubious news articles in the early 2000s that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. "You got no accurate information about how they generated this need to go to war in Iraq. The only reason we were given to go into Iraq did not exist."
Paul took one more question before his handlers escorted him out of the room through a back entrance, leaving a trail of photographers in their wake.
Some of the reporters milled about asking if anyone knew whether there would be a media availibility. There wasn't one.
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