April 15th, 2015

Secrets only a wife would know: Rand Paul’s hair and mock turtlenecks

By Dana Bash

Bowling Green, Kentucky (CNN)– For a 52-year-old man to have a full head of hair, it is impressive. When that man wants to be president, it is helpful.

What about when that man cuts his own hair? That will be for voters to decide.

But yes, it turns out Rand Paul takes shears into his own hands to control his unruly mane.

This revelation comes from his wife Kelley — who pantomimes how he cuts his hair in the mirror, as she describes it.

“It’s not necessarily that he doesn’t like to get his hair cut, it’s just he’s kind of impatient for things like that,” explained Kelley Paul.

It’s that kind of story from Paul’s wife that aides hope will help humanize the introverted, offbeat Republican candidate — or at least help explain him.

But enough about the hair, what about his now famous black mock turtleneck wears a lot?

The Mock Turtleneck

Kelley Paul is a classy woman with lots of style. So its no surprise that she doesn’t like the mock turtleneck look, but she decided this was one of those pick-your-battles moments that often come up in relationships.

“You know like so many things, you have to let him be who he is and now it’s kind of a good thing, now he’s so known for them and I’m kind of like ‘well, OK,’ Paul told us.

In fact, she so has so embraced the mock turtleneck, she even shops for them, which is no easy task, since they’re hard to find these days.

“I walked into Target and there were like 10 of them. And I bought every one that they had at Target,” she said, noting that they’re hard to wash because the quality isn’t great.

Randy Paul?

But no one should mistake Kelley Paul for a wallflower. She is a strong woman who many call his secret weapon, even releasing a new book, “True and Constant Friends,” — and a book tour with interviews like ours, on the heels of his presidential announcement.

She has so much influence over her husband, she even changed his name.

When they started dating, he was called Randy — and had been his whole life — until she changed it to Rand.

“I remember thinking, your name just does not fit you. You don’t seem like a Randy. And I started calling him Rand and he liked it,” she said.

When she married Randy-turned-Rand, he was a doctor without any obvious desire to run for political office, and that’s the way she preferred it.

She was not keen at first on his run for Senate five years ago, and even more reluctant for him to take the plunge he did last week, into the presidential race.

Speaking in the sun-drenched living room of her home in Bowling Green, she said she could have stopped her husband from running for the White House.

Reluctance to Run

“He wouldn’t run if I didn’t want him to, but for that reason, I don’t want to be the person that says don’t do it. You know what I mean? For that very reason I wouldn’t want to quash his dreams, the things that he could accomplish, just out of fear,” she said.

She decided if she is going to be in, she would go all in — front and center, including introducing him at his announcement last week, with plans to be heavily involved in the campaign.

“Traveling some with him, helping with speeches working with our media team. I’d be doing it all,” she said.

Bringing Rand Paul out of his shell

“I think I’m a little bit more of a social person. You know people that know Rand well know that he is, but I don’t think he has a natural political personality,” she said. “He’s not extremely outgoing, so I think that when we’re together it’s perhaps a little easier for him to be.”

And despite her reluctance in the political arena, behind the scenes she has always been an adviser to her husband.

“I am brutally honest,” she said. “I feel like sometimes I try to bring a little bit more of Rand’s personality into his speeches.”

She also critiques his television performances, but says sometimes, like the now infamous “shush” moment — when he shushed a female CNBC reporter in an interview, she doesn’t have to.

“I didn’t see that until later,” Kelley Paul said.

“At that point I didn’t need to tell him that; he was like, ‘Yeah, that wasn’t my best,'” she said.

Kelley Paul, has always been a writer working in various marketing jobs through the years. And in 2012 she did get bit of her own political experience, when her firm was hired to help with the media strategy for then Senate-candidate Ted Cruz, now her husband’s rival for the White House.

What does she think of Cruz’ presidential ambitions?

“I think I can think of someone who would be better, ” she replied with to a grin and a laugh.

Rand Paul relentlessly attacks Clinton on the campaign trail. She does not.

“I think Hillary is a very strong woman I mean there are a lot of things I admire about her, obviously,” she said. “She’s hard working, she refuses to let other people define her; she’s weathered her share of things in politics and so that’s one of the things I do admire about her.”

True and Constant Friends

Perhaps it’s her sense of sisterhood that makes her so restrained.

Kelley Paul so identifies with being a strong and supportive woman, she wrote about it in her new book — stories about and by her group of 7 girlfriends who have stayed close since college, 30 years ago.

“We sort of had this touchstone where we connect and are reminded of how important those friendships are to us,” said Paul.

They still try to get together once a year, meeting up in fun places like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or Lake Tahoe.

They’re the kind of friends every woman can relate to — those who know each other well enough, and long enough, to have an ineffable bond — plus inside jokes that make you belly laugh, and never get old.

For Kelley Paul, these friends have been invaluable in her transition from private life, to public life.

“Friends that I call to make me laugh and look at the absurd side of all of this. I have friends that I will call if I need to cry and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t stand this life,'” she admits.

She said she also gets the tough and frustrating times that comes with political life, thinking about her optimistic grandmother, Julia — also an inspiration for her book about strong women.

She was an Irish immigrant who worked in New York her whole life as a maid, but always had a sense of joy, hope and style.

“I do have trepidation. I think anyone does as a spouse, but at the same time I try to be bold, I try to channel my grandmother because I think Rand has a lot of great ideas. I’m very proud of him,” she said with a smile.


Dana Bash