On Camera: Conway says Obama 'slow' to respond to oil disaster; discusses immigration and cap and trade

06/24/2010 12:00 PM

At last weekend’s Kentucky Democratic Party meeting, both Gov. Steve Beshear and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway predicted that voters will choose Conway in the November election once they hear his positions compared to Republican candidate Rand Paul.

“We need to make sure Kentuckians know where Jack Conway’s opponent stands,” Beshear said in his speech to about 50 Democratic activists Saturday. “We need to make sure they know where Jack Conway stands on those issues. And we’re going to.”

But so far in the U.S. Senate race most of the focus has been on the views of Republican candidate Rand Paul with Conway receiving far less attention.

In an interview with cn|2 Politics on Saturday, Conway said President Barack Obama’s administration “seemed slow to react” to the British Petroleum oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, explained his take on immigration reform and insisted he opposed the approach aimed at curbing pollution known as cap-and-trade.

Based on his rush to declare himself an opponent of such legislation, Conway clearly sees the issue as a potential political liability after Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo portrayed Conway during the Democratic primary as a supporter of the concept. Doing so, Mongiardo and others have argued, would hurt Kentucky’s coal industry.

“Cap and trade” is shorthand for a market-based concept that would essentially set pollution thresholds for industries but allow them to buy or sell “credits” if a factory or power plant exceeded the emissions limit, for instance. The approach seemed to hit a political wall in Washington by the spring, but could be part of renewed discussions over broader energy and environmental legislation in the wake of the BP oil disaster.

“I am opposed to cap and trade. I am opposed to cap and trade,”  Conway told cn|2 Politics. Here’s his full answer:

The ongoing efforts to halt the gush of oil in Gulf also has seeped into the Kentucky U.S. Senate race.

Conway and the Democrats have hammered Paul for his comments about the oil blowout. Paul has said regulations are necessary to keep industry in check and that BP should be held responsible. But he has criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for what he considered “unfair” comments about BP, such as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s remark that the government should keep its “boot on the neck” of BP. At one point, Paul called that “un-American.”

Here’s what Conway had to say about his thoughts on the administration’s response to the BP oil blowout:

Conway also sidestepped a question about whether he agreed with the U.S. Justice Department filing a lawsuit to challenge Arizona’s immigration law that has stirred controversy for allowing law enforcement officers to check the legal status of individuals if they have probable cause. Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, said he would have to see the lawsuit before commenting on it but said immigration laws need to be reformed on the federal level. Here’s what he had to say about immigration and what he calls “problematic” parts of the Arizona law:

Paul, last week, told Lexington radio show host Sue Wylie that stepped-up federal border enforcement is the first step in any immigration reform.

- Ryan Alessi with video produced by Dan Pelstring

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