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CNN's Don Lemon And Rand Paul Clash Over Debt Ceiling (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 07/31/11 09:19 AM ET Updated: 09/30/11 06:12 AM ET

CNN's Don Lemon had a very testy exchange with Sen. Rand Paul about the debt ceiling drama on Saturday night.

As the House and Senate again failed to reach an agreement on how to raise the debt ceiling, Paul appeared on CNN to explain the Tea Party position on the talks. Lemon started off the interview by asking him to chat "without talking points." He also began aggressively trying to get Paul to answer his questions, asking him repeatedly how he had voted on the so-called "Cut, Cap and Balance" bill from the House.

Lemon then wondered whether Paul's insistence on measures like a balanced budget amendment were isolating him.

"The Democrats have made many concessions when it comes to what's going on here, and even the Tea Party position it appears to most people remains rigid," Lemon said. "The question is, have you made your point? And by continuing to go on with this, do you feel like you're overreaching and that you're going to lose the clout?"

Paul started talking about how he didn't want to add any more debt to the country's finances. Lemon cut him off. "Hang on, hang on," he said. "Can we just stick to that--we're going to get to that--"

"Let me finish my thought," Paul said.

"Hold on, please, be respectful here," Lemon responded. "I'm trying to answer your question, you've interrupted my answer," Paul said.

"If you answer the question, I'll give you plenty of time," Lemon said.

The two clashed again when Lemon asked who Paul thinks will be to blame if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations. Again, Paul didn't answer the question directly, and, again, Lemon pressed him on it. There was yet another contentious back-and-forth when Lemon asked Paul about whether he understood that the public is frustrated with Washington, and Paul started talking about measures he had introduced in the Senate.

"I don't want talking points, with all due respect, I'm asking you, do you feel the public sentiment in Washington?" Lemon asked. "This isn't a talking point, I'm trying to tell you what we did 30 minutes ago in the Senate," Paul shot back.

"I'm not asking you what you did, sir. With all due respect, I'm asking you if you feel how the public feels in Washington," Lemon replied.

Later, Lemon said that he hadn't gone after Paul because he is a conservative. "It's not ideological to ask someone to stick to the question presented," he said. "It's just being respectful of you--the viewer the voter."

Watch the exchange at the top of the post (via Mediate)

Watch Lemon's explanation:

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