Paul says he’s mainstream enough to win Ky. seat

Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Kentucky, returned to network TV on Sunday with the message that his political views are mainstream enough to win the November election and that he will support GOP leadership in Congress.

“I will put Kentucky first,” Mr. Paul said during a debate on “Fox News Sunday” with his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway.

Mr. Paul also used the debate to deliver the larger Republican message that the November elections are really a referendum on President Obama’s legislative agenda, including high-cost bailouts and health care reform, and that reducing the national debt is among his top priorities.

“It’s not a revenue problem,” he said. “It’s a spending problem.”

Mr. Conway, the commonwealth’s attorney general, and Mr. Paul, one of the original 2010 “tea party” candidates, squared off in their only national debate with just 30 days remaining before the general election.

Polls show Mr. Paul leading in one of the most closely watched races this election cycle. The race has captivated Americans nationwide since Mr. Paul, an ophthalmologist and first-time political candidate, defeated GOP-establishment-backed candidate Trey Grayson in one of the early midterm primaries. A Rasmussen poll last week showed Mr. Paul leading by 11 points.

Though Mr. Paul largely has avoided attacking Mr. Conway, on Sunday he portrayed Mr. Conway as a full supporter of President Obama’s agenda.


Mr. Conway said he supports the health care reform and other Obama administration initiatives but would have voted against bailouts.

“There was not enough accountability in them,” he said. “We had people getting bonuses after getting the bailouts.”

Said Mr. Paul, “What he needs to do is either defend his president or run away — so far, he’s running away from President Obama and the agenda.”

Mr. Paul is a strong supporter of repealing the health care act.

Though both candidates agreed that Bush-era tax cuts should be extended, Mr. Paul accused Mr. Conway of flip-flopping on the issue. 

“You were for them before you were against them before you were for them again,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Conway said he opposes special interest provisions that allow U.S. companies to send jobs overseas but supported the Bush administration tax cuts of 2002. 

Mr. Paul also accused Mr. Conway of supporting the Democrats’ so-called “cap-and-trade” legislation that attempts to regulate greenhouse emissions, which he called “a disaster for coal jobs” in Kentucky.

Mr. Conway said that he did not support the House bill passed in 2009 and that he always will act to protect coal.

“Don’t read the news,” he said. “Take a look at my actions as attorney general.”

Mr. Conway repeatedly tried during the roughly 15-minute debate to portray Mr. Paul as out of touch with state issues, including mining regulations and widespread drug problems in eastern Kentucky.

Defending attacks that he doesn’t want federal help in cleaning up the methamphetamine problem in the state’s eastern region, Mr. Paul said that he welcomes assistance but that there should be a state-federal plan.

“The more local control, the better,” Mr. Paul said, adding that the number of meth labs roughly has doubled under Mr. Conway’s watch.

Mr. Conway said that he has worked hard to stop the drug problem but that many labs now have become mobile and hard to find.

“I’ve had mothers crying on my shoulder about their daughters overdosing on oxycodone,” he said.

Mr. Paul said a major concern about federal intervention on state mining is that the Environmental Protection Agency has assumed Congress‘ role as lawmakers.

“The arrogance of non-elected bureaucrats making laws needs to come to an end,” he said.

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