- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ASHLAND, Va. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky headlined a rally Wednesday for Senate candidate Ed Gillespie and House candidate Dave Brat.

Paul, who has been weighing a potential 2016 presidential bid and campaigning for other Republican candidates across the country, told supporters at a small auditorium in Ashland that Gillespie and Brat would help repeal the Affordable Care Act and rein in federal spending.

Gillespie is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and is considered an underdog in his bid to unseat Democrat Mark Warner in the senate election.

Brat became an overnight political sensation when he defeated former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the GOP primary in June. He faces Democrat Jack Trammell in next month’s general election.

WARNER’S RECORD

Gillespie and Paul focused on Warner’s record in the Senate and argued that Warner is not the moderate candidate he portrays himself to be.

“I hate to tell you Virginia, but you’ve been tricked,” Paul said, noting Warner’s past support for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “You’ve been hoodwinked.”

Gillespie revisited a familiar attack that Warner is a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama’s policies.

“Mark Warner has pretty much voted for every single one of” Obama’s policies, Gillespie said. “And it’s time for a change.”

A spokesman for Warner’s campaign said that Gillespie showed by campaigning with Paul that he would “add to the gridlock in Congress.”

FEDERAL SPENDING AND TAXES

Brat, an economics professor, noted if elected he would be the only economist in the House. He drew loud applause by telling the crowd he would work for a “fair and flat tax.”

“The tax burden you face is crushing you,” Brat said.

All three candidates spoke harshly of the Affordable Care Act, saying it was hurting the economy.

Paul said he was worried about the federal deficit and said federal spending needed to be cut. He singled out the National Institutes of Health, which has recently said spending cuts have hurt efforts to develop Ebola vaccines, as an example of wasteful spending. He listed several NIH-funded research projects he said were unnecessary, including a $2.4 million study on “origami condoms.”

GOP OUTREACH:

Paul told supporters the Republican Party needs to unite and broaden its appeal to win, echoing what both Brat and Gillespie have been saying on their respective campaign trails. Brat rode a tea party-fueled wave to defeat Cantor, an establishment favorite, while Gillespie had to fend off a tea party challenger to secure the Republican nomination.

Paul encouraged his Virginia supporters to try and broaden the GOP’s appeal to the poor by pointing out what he said were Obama’s failures at helping the country’s poor.

“If you are poor or you live in our cities, what has the president done for you?” Paul asked. “The richer are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer under this president’s watch.”

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