Forget Jack Conway — Rand Paul targets Obama during televised debate

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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From Rand Paul’s opening remarks during Monday night’s Kentucky Senate debate, you’d think the Republican nominee was running against President Obama.

“I became concerned that President Obama’s agenda would support entitlement programs,” Paul said, explaining the impetus for his candidacy during the 60-minute debate Monday night at Northern Kentucky University.

“I became concerned that President Obama’s agenda was to raise taxes in the middle of a recession,” he continued. “I became concerned that President Obama’s agenda to bring cap and trade to Kentucky would be disastrous for Kentucky.”

Paul’s Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, went unmentioned.

“President Obama’s vision is that government is the answer to every economic ill, to every social ill,” Paul, 47, said. “Our answer is, as Ronald Reagan said, ‘the government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.’”

Conway, however, took the opposite approach, essentially making the case that voters should vote for him because he’s not Paul. His often-repeated phrase throughout the night was “Rand Paul is wrong.”

“Rand Paul would undo all the we have fought for since the Great Depression,” Conway, 41, the state’s attorney general, said. “Rand Paul is wrong, fundamentally wrong. Count on me to protect Kentucky. This is a choice between right and wrong.”

The two debated the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They also listed ways to cut the deficit.

But despite Paul’s apparent strategy to keep the race about Obama, local issues dominated a large chunk of the night. Words were exchanged over airports and drug abuse in the state.

When Conway accused Paul of not appreciating the pressing issue of drugs in the state, Paul responded by blaming Conway.

“Do you know who the chief law enforcement officer is in Kentucky?” Paul said, referencing Conway. “Drugs are a bad problem in our state. They are getting worse.”

“That is disrespectful to the Kentucky state police,” Conway responded.

At the end of the debate, Paul mentioned Obama again. “We need to not have a president who flies around the world and disparages America, disparages our way of life,”  he said. Paul went on to say that he’s for the American way, not the Cuban way of life.

At this point, Conway attempted to call Paul out.

“I appreciate the discussion of Cuba, [but] this is about who is going to put the commonwealth of Kentucky first,” he said.