Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Kentucky, returned to network TV on Sunday, saying that his political views are mainstream enough to win the November election and that he will support the GOP leadership in Congress.
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 state’s attorney general, and Mr. Paul, one of the original 2010 “tea party” candidates, squared off in their only nationally televised 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 Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who was backed by the Republican establishment, in one of the early midterm primaries.
Though Mr. Paul largely has avoided attacking Mr. Conway, on Sunday he portrayed Mr. Conway as a full supporter of Mr. 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.”
Mr. Paul is a strong supporter of repealing the health care law.
“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.