Rand Paul's joyless campaign

Earlier this year, Paul memorably appeared testy and impatient in an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. During the first Republican debate, he visibly rolled his eyes at Chris Christie during a discussion of national security. And last week, during a 24-hour livestream of his campaign, Paul seemed annoyed with the exercise, calling it a “dumbass livestream.”

At his campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Kentucky senator had ample reason to be buoyant. CNBC had just confirmed this week that Paul would be among the Republicans on the prime-time stage Wednesday in Boulder, Colo., for the third GOP debate. And a few recent national polls have shown the libertarian’s anemic support on the rise, if only slightly.

But Paul was again in a foul mood. In particular, he did not want to discuss Ted Cruz, who has emerged as a key rival.

A question about Paul’s recent remark that Cruz is “done for” in the Senate after burning bridges with colleagues, which seemed to suggest that Paul still values legislative pragmatism in an election cycle that does not, was immediately a nonstarter.