Why Did Rand Paul Run Away From a Confrontation with a DREAMer?

At a Monday fundraiser in Iowa, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) bolted when "DREAMer" Erika Andiola interrupted his lunch with Congressman Steve King (R-IA). Andiola, the co-director of DREAM Action Coalition, approached the table where Paul and King were seated and introduced herself.

"My name is Erika," she said. "I'm actually a DREAMer myself." Immediately upon hearing the word "DREAMer," Sergio Gor, Paul's communications director, nodded to the senator, who had just taken a bite of his burger, and the two stood up and left before Paul could even finish chewing the chunk of burger in his mouth.

Rep. King hung around to have a lengthy and rather animated discussion with the young woman, who had been brought to the U.S. illegally by her mother when she was 11 years old.

It was clearly an ambush designed to provoke responses from King and Paul.  After Paul departed, Andiola invited King to tear up her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) card and she followed that up with a recitation of the typical talking points of the pro-amnesty crowd, all designed for maximum YouTube exposure.

King listened to Andiola's concerns and then passionately (and mostly patiently) tried to explain to the young woman that the president didn't have the constitutional authority to issue DACA cards, attempting to sell Andiola on the benefits of a country that is governed by rule of law. The exchange went on for more than seven minutes.

In an email to National Review, Sergio Gor said Paul had to leave to meet with the media. "Senator Paul had a media avail after the event and that's where we had to be. CNN, Buzzfeed, Wall Street Journal and several local outlets attended the media avail."

Appearing later on MSNBC, Andiola said that Rand Paul should think twice about being seen with Steve King if he's considering running for president in 2016. "Steve King has been one of the most extreme anti-immigrant folks in Congress and I don't know if Rand Paul actually learned a lesson from Mitt Romney, but Mitt Romney lost the election with the Latino vote because he didn't support the DREAM Act and he believed in self-deportation."

Andiola also said that Paul would need to face the issue of DREAMers if he wanted to run for president. "It's a tough issue, but the reality is that if you have someone that is actually affected by it that's trying to talk to you, you don't run away. You actually sit there and you try to talk," she said, "At least King ... he talked to us. And Rand Paul, who is trying to run for office in 2016 didn't even finish his burger and, you know, bailed out."

So, was Rand Paul's departure from what was clearly an ambush by the pro-amnesty activist a canny demonstration of political acumen or an act of cowardice?