Less than a month ago, Kentucky junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul announced he was running for president as a "different" kind of Republican.
Who could've guessed that Paul meant he would be a different candidate on any given day?
While Paul's most notable and obvious changes have come in the realm of foreign policy, his zigzagging in the wake of police shootings and the deaths of unarmed black men have left many wondering if there's really anything different about Paul.
Last Friday in Fort Mitchell, Paul was still reeling from his latest blunder. Earlier in the week, Paul told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that he was on a train going through Baltimore during riots there. "I'm glad the train didn't stop," he said.
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When reporters asked him about the remark Friday, Paul defended his record of proposing solutions for problems facing the nation's big cities and blamed the backlash on his liberal critics.
"Saying that you didn't want to stop during a riot, I thought that was just sort of an off-hand thing that wasn't intended to be anything more than that," Paul said.
When the Associated Press asked the senator if comments like that might hurt the outreach efforts to minority voters that he became so well known for in the run-up to his presidential campaign, Paul offered his characteristic chuckle.
"Well, I mean you always regret off-hand comments after you say them because people misinterpret them," Paul said laughing. "But I think people shouldn't misinterpret my intentions."
The senator told reporters that he has "spent a lot of time traveling to our nation's cities and looking for answers."
"I think I'm one of the few people who actually has some solutions for trying to fix poverty in our big cities and criminal justice," Paul said, arguing that he has proposed either six or eight criminal justice reform bills. (The actual number is five.)
At times, that has certainly been true, but Paul's reactions to the varying chapters of civil unrest in America perfectly encapsulate his one-step-forward-two-steps-back approach to making himself a viable candidate for the general election.
After tensions and violence flared in Ferguson, Mo., last fall, Paul paid a visit to the town, where he met with community leaders and later wrote an Op-Ed in Time magazine calling for the demilitarization of police.
Later, following Eric Garner's death from a police choke hold after being confronted for selling tax-free cigarettes in New York City, Paul blamed the cigarette tax.
After Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, was shot in the back and killed by a police officer in North Charleston, S.C., Paul again paid a visit to an unsettled area. But he was there to continue his presidential campaign kick-off, and made no mention of the high-profile killing or subsequent arrest of the police officer as he spoke to a crowd in front of the U.S.S. Yorktown.
When the Herald-Leader tried to ask Paul Friday about his varying responses to the incidents, the senator cut off two questions before they were finished.
"We're doing exactly the same thing we've been doing for four years," he said dismissively.
When Paul was reminded that his critics were questioning whether he was changing his tune now that he is officially in the race for the Republican nomination, he said the criticism was only the politics-as-usual line of attack from the other side of the aisle.
"Not stopping in a riot? I don't know how that would really ... I think people have over ... Most of this is coming from the Democratic National Committee, the Daily Kos, the Democrat Underground, so these are talking points for the Democrats," Paul said. "But I think I've shown my concern for our big cities' problems, my concern for those who live in poverty and my concern for those who are treated unfairly by criminal justice by my actions."
But recent national media stories, such as Politico's "How Rand Paul blew it on Baltimore" and Bloomberg News' "Why does Rand Paul keep missing his moment?", are coming from places that have hardly been critics of the senator.
Over the weekend, Paul finally took some time to relax, enjoying drinks with friends on Millionaire's Row at the Kentucky Derby and refusing to talk to reporters.
By Monday, Paul was back to being a warrior for criminal justice reform, striking a pose more similar to Ferguson than New York, South Carolina and Baltimore.
Under the subheading "The senator takes another stab at explaining the civil unrest," Bloomberg's Dave Weigel wrote that Paul's remarks to a crowd in Grand Rapids, Mich., sounded like the things Paul said before he started running for president.
"You wonder why people are unhappy in our cities?" Paul said. "Some aren't doing it right. Some are protesting violently, and there's no excuse for violence, but the thing is, there is an unhappiness. Those of us who don't live in poverty, we need to understand where it's coming from."
So less than a month into his bid for the White House, Paul is already struggling mightily with questions about who he is and what he believes.
Those are tough questions for a man who was looking to base his run on conviction, authenticity and being "a different kind of Republican."