It took a couple months of chatter and a nasty ad from Jack Conway, but Rand Paul is finally opening up about that Aqua Buddha story. Sort of.
The tale, first told in GQ in August, has become the centerpiece of the Kentucky Senate race in recent days, with Democrat Conway calling on the Republican Paul to explain why a woman is accusing him of tying her up, putting her in a creek and asking her to pray to “Aqua Buddha” while both were students at Baylor University.
Since the story broke, Paul has basically ignored it, dismissing it as a tale told by an anonymous source and fomented by the Conway camp. Now, with polls tightening and the national media transfixed by Conway’s ad, Paul is being forced to address the topic in national interviews.
On Hannity last night, Paul stuck to his normal line of neither confirming nor denying the story despite some surprisingly tough (read: actually slightly journalistic) questions from Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“How do you even respond to something so ridiculous?” Paul told Hannity.
The host suggested he felt Paul’s pain.
“Well — I have to ask the question, it’s my job,” Hannity lamented.
But on Laura Ingraham’s radio show today, Paul was a bit more forthcoming, as Politico’s Manu Raju reports.
“I wish I had a great story about it, I don’t remember anything about the story,” Paul told Ingraham when she asked about the Aqua Buddha tale. He added that “he and other college-era friends couldn’t remember the anonymous woman who has been quoted in the press.”
Still not a firm denial or confirmation, but it’s something.
Paul also gave some insight into his time as a member of the NoZe Brotherhood, the Baylor campus group that Conway has accused of “mocking Christianity” in his ads.
“We were kind of nerds,” Paul told Ingraham.
Predictably, Paul’s answers weren’t enough to satisfy his critics at the Conway campaign.
“Why won’t Rand Paul answer basic questions about his own actions?” Conway spokesperson John Collins told Raju.
The Louisville Courier-Journal picked up more from the Ingraham show:
“I don’t know who the woman is, I don’t remember and I don’t agree with her characterization,” Paul told the radio host. “The only thing I remember from college of these little pranks is that we were kind of nerds, we used to sometimes take people and we would read (19th century philosopher Friedrich) Nietzsche to them because we thought we were really clever.
“Most people thought we were a bunch of nerds but nobody ever thought we were kidnapping them or making them pray to some idol because the thing is, it’s just so ridiculous,” he said.
The TPM Poll Average shows Paul leading the race 46.9-42.6.
Editor’s Note: This post has been added to since it was first published.