Conway critical of Paul at church picnic
LONE OAK, Ky. (AP) — Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway capitalized on Rand Paul’s absence from a popular political event Saturday to reinforce his message that his Republican opponent would be silent on such core Kentucky issues as drug enforcement and coal mining safety.
Conway took a playful poke at Paul for skipping the political speechmaking at the annual St. John picnic, telling the crowd: “A famous American comic once said that 90 percent of success is just showing up. I guess we win on that score.”
Paul spoke earlier in the day to a Republican crowd in the area, warning that the country faces “a day of reckoning” unless the federal government gets its massive budget deficit under control. Paul said he had a scheduling conflict that prevented him from sharing the stage with Conway at the picnic, but wouldn’t specify what kept him away.
Conway turned Paul’s absence into a theme, saying “It’s not just about showing up, it’s about speaking up.”
“This race ... presents a clear choice between my proven record of holding people accountable and protecting Kentucky families and Rand Paul, who doesn’t understand Kentucky and who doesn’t share our values,” Conway said.
Conway said his opponent would fail to seek vital federal funding for drug enforcement programs or stand up for tough regulations to protect Kentucky coal miners.
Paul found himself on the defensive on the drug issue recently after The Associated Press quoted him saying he doesn’t think drugs are a “real pressing issue” in the Senate race. Paul has since offered assurances that he realizes drug abuse is a problem.
Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton later shot back that it’s Conway who’s out of touch, saying in a statement that Kentuckians “overwhelmingly reject the agenda he shares with his liberal D.C. buddies and Barack Obama,” including the health care overhaul that the president championed.
In his speech, Conway touted his record as Kentucky’s attorney general, saying his office has cracked down on child pornographers, prescription pill traffickers and Medicaid fraud.
Conway said he would push for tax credits to spur job growth and a program to encourage lending by smaller banks. He called for “a top-to-bottom review” of trade deals, noting Kentucky lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs in the past decade.
Both candidates spent the day campaigning in western Kentucky, a crucial battleground in their race to replace GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring after two terms.
Speaking to GOP activists at a middle school, Paul kept up his constant criticism of Obama’s prescription for the nation’s economic slump and high unemployment.
“We have a different vision than the president,” Paul said. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with him, it’s that his vision is wrong. ... His vision is that we’re going to get out of this recession with more spending, more deficits. But that money just doesn’t magically appear.”
Paul advocated a free-market approach that he said would “get out of the way of business.”
Paul touts limited government and balanced budgets, and the tea party favorite vows to offer proposals to balance the federal budget if elected. Paul has said every government program should come under review for possible cuts, but has said it’s doubtful he will offer a specific budget-balancing plan before the election.
“People come to me and they say, ’Oh, you’re going to vote against this program,”’ Paul said in his speech Saturday. “I say, ’How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to simply stick your head in the sand and keep borrowing, or are you going to print it up from the Federal Reserve and dilute the value of the dollars that exist?”’
“We can’t live that way. There is a day of reckoning coming.”
Paul said continued rising deficits could further cripple the economy with higher inflation and interest rates.