Rand Paul Hits Bumps In First Week Of Campaign

Rand Paul's long-anticipated presidential rollout hasn't gone quite as smoothly as he might have hoped.

In just his first week as an official candidate, he's faced the dual headwinds of negative ads highlighting conservative criticism over his foreign policy views as well as charges of sexism for his combative reactions in high-profile interviews.

The early days of a presidential campaign are critically important: It's a first shot for candidates to define themselves at a time when they'll attract a swell of generally positive media coverage and get screen time in front of audiences that don't normally pay attention to politics.

And this early on — Paul was only the second candidate to jump in the race after Ted Cruz — newcomers face an onslaught of political media coverage. That means closer than usual scrutiny of a candidate's record and statements, along with incessant horse race evaluations of based on optics and the logistics of campaign rollouts.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, who worked on Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, said candidates need to understand the level of attention and close examination that presidential candidates can be exhaustive.

"Even when you breathe, it's news," he said. "There's always going to be mistakes, the question is how do you handle those mistakes and move forward.

Taking on the media can sometimes be strategic for candidates, O'Connell said, but candidates need to pick their battles wisely.

"What they want to see you do is be diplomatic about it and then be able to triangulate and return fire when it's something really, really big," he said.

Whether those contentious moments will have an effect on his campaign is unclear.

Read more from Ashley Killough at CNN

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Analysis & Political Strategy