"He's the last person in the world who would ever be dismissive of someone because they're a woman," says wife Kelley Paul

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
April 14, 2015 01:20 PM
D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

Just one week after Kentucky senator Rand Paul launched his presidential campaign, his wife is speaking out – and, despite chatter to the contrary, she insists he is no sexist.

“He’s the last person in the world who would ever be dismissive of someone because they’re a woman. I mean the last person,” Kelley Paul told The New York Times this week, strongly refuting any implication of sexism.

“Frankly, it offends me, because that’s not who he is,” she added while promoting her new book of essays about women, True and Constant Friends.

Kelley, his wife of nearly 25 years, is speaking out following criticism that Rand, a conservative Republican and trained ophthalmologist, has been unduly disparaging of female journalists and fellow candidate Hillary Clinton.

Rand Paul, 52, sparked headlines last week when he was noticeably short with Today show host Savannah Guthrie in an interview for the morning program, telling her, ‘Let me explain instead of talking over me, okay?”

In a CNN interview later that day, the candidate addressed the flap, explaining he has “been universally short-tempered and testy with both male and female reporters,” and admitting he needs to get better “at holding my tongue and holding my temper.”

Kelley reiterated these comments to the Times, explaining that it’s simply an example of her husband’s blunt style.

“Rand’s personality is kind of ‘Cut to the point,’ ” she said. “I think in some ways people respond better to that, but we’ll see. We’ll see what the country wants.”

Kelley Paul also spoke to Today‘s Hoda Kotb about the sexism allegations on Monday, reiterating that her husband is no misogynist.

“As a spouse, you always want the person you love to come off the best that they can, so it’s hard for me sometimes to see him being criticized because that’s not who he is in terms of his relationships with women,” she said. “His longtime surgical partner, over 10 years, was a female surgeon.”

In another interview with CNN on Sunday – the same day Hillary Clinton announced her presidential bid – Paul made it clear he would not ease up on his criticism of the former secretary of state simply because she’s a woman.

“I would treat her with the same respect that I would treat a man,” he said. “I think that would be a sexist response to say, ‘Oh, my goodness, she deserves not to be treated as aggressively, because she’s only a woman.”