Sen. Rand Paul says he wasn't trying to avoid a woman who identified herself as a "Dreamer" at a restaurant in Iowa on Monday night, but simply had another interview to attend.
A video has since gone viral of Erika Andiola approaching Paul and Iowa Rep. Steve King as they were eating hamburgers in an Okoboji, Ky., restaurant.
In the video, Andiola walks up to the two Republicans and introduces herself as a "Dreamer," someone who immigrated illegally from Mexico as a child. She and fellow Dreamer Cesar Vargas shake hands with both men, and Andiola begins talking to King about his support for a bill to end President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which could end up deporting people such as herself.
Paul, a Kentucky Republican, takes another bite of his hamburger before an aide signals for him to leave, which he does.
The video has gone viral, with Andiola, a co-director of the DREAM Action Coalition, tweeting that Paul ran away as soon as she identified herself as a Dreamer.
"Instead of actually staying there and talking to us about it, he just decided to run away," Andiola told The National Journal.
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Appearing on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren"
Paul said he never intended to avoid Andiola.
He said he had been asked two minutes earlier by another reporter to do an interview and had agreed, but asked to take a couple of more bites of his meal first.
"So, actually, I stand about 10 feet from those people who are doing sort of a kamikaze interview . . . and did another interview," Paul said.
Paul aide Sergio Gor told the National Journal, "Sen. 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."
Paul told Van Susteren he has always been open to discussing immigration and thinks there should be reform, but not before securing the border. Paul has not publicly supported doing away with DACA.
He did say he opposes Obama's "making policy" through executive actions rather than letting Congress pass bills that he then signs into law.
On another matter, Paul told Van Susteren that stories he once tried to cut aid for Israel are untrue, though he has spent the past several months trying to cut aid to Hamas. He has tried to trim foreign aide overall, but never targeted countries that are friendly to the United States, he said.
Claims to the contrary, he said, are simply "someone trying to create a story."
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