Last night before a debate, supporters of Kentucky GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul tackled a MoveOn.Org member to the ground and “stomped on her head” within feet of the candidate. Activist Lauren Valle suffered a concussion and spent the night in the hospital, and is now “leaning toward pressing charges” on the unidentified attacker wearing Rand Paul gear.
Predictably, Paul took to Fox News to defend himself this morning. The friendly news outlet significantly downgraded the severity of the head stomping, saying the woman’s “shoulder [was] stepped on.” For his part, Paul — whose treatment of a woman during his college years has become a campaign issue — dismissed the incident as mere “jockeying back and forth,” as if the woman had also attacked the men who tackled her:
HOST: Political banter inside and now we have a brawl outside. As a female protester getting roughed up during demonstrations in the parking lot while Rand Paul and Jack Conway were debating on the inside in Kentucky. Her shoulder Stepped on after being stepped on after being heckled by two men there. [...]
PAUL: And there was a bit of a crowd control problem. I don’t want anybody though to be involved in things that aren’t civil. I think this should always be about the issues. And it is an unusual situation to have so many people so passionate on both sides jockeying back and forth. And it wasn’t something that I liked or anybody liked about that situation. So I hope in the future it is going to be better.
Likewise, Paul’s campaign put out a statement last night referencing the “altercation…between supporters of both sides.” “We are relieved to hear that the woman in question was not injured,” it read, despite the fact that woman was indeed injured and in the hospital at the time the statement was released.
This attempt to suggest there was a back-and-forth does not square with the facts. Video of the incident clearly shows at least two large men bringing Valle to the ground, while another rips her blonde wig off and a fourth steps on her knee. One of the first two men then stomps on her shoulder, with his heel clearly making contact with her head. Two members of the crowd then appear to try to intervene; a man can be heard shouting, “no, no, no, come on,” while a woman tries to push away one of the men tackling tackling Valle.
MoveOn has called on Paul to condemn the attacker, but he avoided doing so during the interview.