Rand Paul can't take the heat in the heat

Rand Paul was supposed to be on “Ralston Reports” tonight. He will not be.

Paul will be in Southern Nevada to help the GOP raise money and for FreedomFest And he has done interviews with the Sun and the RJ.

Paul seemed eager to do the program on Friday – until Thursday afternoon, after being pummeled for his associations with a guy who seems to wish the land of Dixie could be a separate country and have a statue honoring John Wilkes Booth adorning its capital.

As hard as it is to believe – as hard as it is for me to believe – this is not about me. I have had politicians snub me before. And -- an educated guess – it will happen again.

So be it. Nature of the cowardly beasts.

Many of them either don’t want to face tough questions or their advisers tell them it’s not a good idea. Perhaps some just might not like me, as hard as that is to believe.

But what Paul did is different and speaks much more about him than it does about me.

This is not the first time Paul has pulled this unprofessional, craven maneuver. And the parallels are eerie.

Two years ago, Paul backed out of a scheduled “Meet the Press” appearance after a week of being skewered by the media. It was almost unprecedented in the history of that program.

It’s almost never happened to us, either – and we were given even shorter notice than David Gregory & Co. Indeed, we had even changed the time of taping our program to accommodate Paul’s schedule.

But after a week of scorching coverage of an aide's past screeds about secession and admiration for Lincoln's assassin and the senator's lame response, a Paul aide called my producer, Dana Gentry, to say he could no longer make it. Why?

Because, my producer was told, the senator had scheduled a mysterious “meeting” that now conflicted with the taping. There was no other time to do the taping, so the Paul minion suggested we might be able to do it in eight weeks when he returns. Generous, eh?

Whether it was a ham-handed dodge or an abrupt cancellation is of no consequence to me. But it’s hardly senatorial – or presidential, for that matter.

Once I informed the Twitterverse of Paul’s pusillanimity, many people chimed in, including an excellent national reporter and a close presidential adviser. Others told me privately they were shocked.

Paul may take brave stands on drones and be a quirky but authentic voice who will have an impact on politics for a long time. But if he is not ready for prime time in Nevada, he is not ready for prime time on the national stage.