The Kentucky Farm Bureau has hosted candidate forums for statewide offices since the 1940s, but rarely – if ever – has the Bureau hosted the likes of Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul, who is on record calling farm subsidies “welfare,” as he did in May on a KET program before the primary election. His Democratic opponent Jack Conway insisted repeatedly that Rand Paul has said in the past that he’s in favor of eliminating the entire USDA, leaving Paul questioning himself at the follow-up press conference:
It’s always funny because I’ve been in public life and not afraid to speak my mind for 20-some-odd years, and people always say, ‘Did you say this?’ and it’s like, ‘I don’t know. It’s been 20 years of me popping off and saying what I thought,’ but I don’t think I’ve ever said that I’m in favor of getting rid of the Department of Agriculture. If I did say that, that’s not my position. I don’t think I’ve ever said that. A lot of times people get conflated with other people saying things and all of a sudden I’m something that I’ve never said. Anyway, I’m not in favor of getting rid of the Department of Agriculture.
In his April meeting with the Courier-Journal editorial board, Rand Paul did call for the elimination of several departments of the federal government, namely education, commerce and energy, but at least on that occasion, Paul only mentioned targeting programs within the USDA, without naming those programs directly. On an appearance on CNN following his May primary victory, Paul said, “There will be some departments you might be able to get rid of, but at the very least they need to be downsized.”
In his interview with the National Review, Paul distinguished himself from his father, Ron Paul, regarding the elder Paul’s views on eliminating multiple federal departments:
Paul says he is trying to “nibble around the edges,” to “not be the person who says he will eliminate every department in the federal government. My dad freely will say that, that he would eliminate at least half of the departments, but he is just more forthright.”
In their second of three joint appearances before the campaign begins in earnest after Labor Day, the elbows are getting sharp as Conway and Paul begin to draw contrasts with each other while clinging to the middle ground that they both support.
Both candidates oppose cap-and-trade legislation, and both are in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts, including the estate tax. The contrasts came over healthcare reform, farm subsidies, immigration, education funding, and positions on the drug war — not to mention contrasts in appearance and speaking styles. Not discussed at all: financial reform and the extension of unemployment benefits.
On education, Conway said he supported federal dollars going to post-secondary technical training while Dr. Paul said, “education should be funded at the state level [because] money is wasted in the Washington bureaucracy.” Paul is in favor of eliminating the Department of Education.
Paul also made news at the Farm Bureau event by offering two positions on whether he would vote for Sen. Mitch McConnell for minority leader. During the forum, Paul stated unequivocally he would vote for McConnell while attacking Conway for his potential vote for Harry Reid for majority leader. After the event during the press conference, Paul was less emphatic, saying only, “I see no reason why I wouldn’t vote for him. That’s the best I can do.”
Conway declined to state whom he would vote for as leader of his party’s caucus in the Senate, calling it “measuring the drapes territory.”
Video from Marion County Line
Video from Marion County Line