Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

The overarching message of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) newly launched presidential campaign is that he's “a different kind of Republican.”

If you take a glance at some of the secessionists, conspiracy theorists and other people who have floated in and out of Paul's orbit over the years, it's clear to see there's something to that.

Case in point: Rev. Jerry Stephenson, a local pastor who introduced Paul on Tuesday at his presidential campaign launch in Louisville, Kentucky. Speaking with journalists after the main event, Stephenson dog-whistled to those who believe President Obama is secretly a Muslim.

“In five years we’ll find out what [Obama’s] real religion is,” Stephenson said,according to BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins. The pastor added, "Once he’s out, he will ‘evolve’ like he did on gay marriage.”

Paul’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed on the pastor’s remarks.

Stephenson is far from the first person in the senator’s circle, however, to voice such a fringe belief. While it's important to note that Paul does not endorse every potentially inflammatory comment his associates make, these personalities within the senator's sphere could prove to be a liability to his presidential campaign.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spent the day following the launch of his presidential campaign getting into a series of tiffs with reporters.

The Kentucky Republican on Wednesday got into a "testy" exchange about abortion bans with an Associated Press reporter, just hours after clashing with NBC's Savannah Guthrie, whom Paul accused of "editorializing" while trying to correct her interviewing technique.

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