Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is not pleased with GIFs that made the rounds on Tuesday showing him seeming to have a less-than-thrilled reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s big speech to Congress.
In a Fox News interview on Wednesday, Paul said media outlets “demean themselves” by calling attention to his relatively slow clapping during Netanyahu’s address yesterday.
“I think what’s funny about it is that you have these gossipy websites who really demean themselves by putting stuff like that out,” Paul said.
Netanyahu gave a major address before Congress where he criticised the current US negotiations with Iran. The US and other powers are pushing Iran to roll back its nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting some of the economic sanctions against Tehran, but Netanyahu argued Iran will still get a nuclear weapon under those terms.
Some Democrats chose not to attend the speech, which was organised by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and not the White House.
Throughout the speech, the members of Congress who did attend could barely contain their enthusiasm and constantly burst into loud applause. However, various news outlets noted Paul, who breaks from his party’s foreign policy orthodoxy by advocating for less military intervention, didn’t appear as excited as his colleagues.
Paul’s reaction was captured in a GIF that seemed to show him clapping much more slowly than those people around him. Bloomberg pointed to the clip as definitive evidence foreign policy could be a problematic issue for Paul as he attempts to woo GOP primary voters in advance of a likely 2016 presidential bid.
“Rand Paul’s Israel Problem Summed Up in One Telling Gif,” Bloomberg’s headline declared:
On Fox News, Paul insisted he is a strong supporter of Netanyahu and was definitely enthused with his speech no matter how it may have looked in the GIF.
To prove his point, Paul pointed to his support for legislation proposed by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) that would require Congress to have approval over any Iran deal as evidence he shares some of the Israeli prime minister’s concerns about the negotiation.
“I gave the prime minister 50 standing ovations. I cosponsored bringing him here,” he said. “And on the day that I also decided to cosponsor the Corker bill, that says any final deal has to be approved [by Congress], we have gossipy websites looking at up at the metric of how fast you clap. I think they demean themselves by putting that out.”
Watch his Fox News interview below:
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