Paul declares the tea party will be 'mainstream' this fall

07/10/2010 10:44 PM

(WITH VIDEO) FRANKFORT — Speaking to hundreds of tea party supporters outside the state Capitol, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul made an effort to re-brand the movement as “mainstream” heading into the fall general election when he will need the votes of Kentucky Democrats, independents and Republicans.

“I know this worries some people because of the word, but you are part of the mainstream,” Paul said at the event, which organizers called the 2010 Kentucky Freedom Festival.

Paul encouraged the tea party to control it’s own message this fall as opposed to letting political opponents and the media define the movement. He said positions on limiting terms of members of Congress, balancing the budget and forcing legislators to read bills before voting aren’t extremist, as Paul said the media has portrayed. Instead, those three things, which happen to be key Paul campaign issues, actually have widespread support in both parties, Paul said.

“To those who want to define us as extremist go poll those questions (and see the outcome),” Paul said.

He also charged the tea party to brand itself instead of letting the media characterize the movement.

“We must present our message,” Paul said. “Not let them explain who we are.”

Paul also criticized his opponent in the Senate race, Democrat Jack Conway, even more directly than he did earlier Saturday at a Northern Kentucky GOP rally. Paul denounced Conway’s position in support of the health care legislation Congress passed this spring and for not wanting to make permanent the elimination of the estate tax. Paul also said Conway should have more strongly denounced proposed legislation that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by placing limits on them allowing industries and utilities to buy credits if they surpass those limits. Conway has said he opposes that legislation but remains haunted by his first reaction to the bill last summer that was more ambiguous.

Paul once again said that in order for Conway to win this November, the state’s attorney general would have to distance himself from President Obama and his policies.

“I don’t think (Conway) can run fast enough,” Paul said.

Paul also hammered on the national debt and on stimulus bills, much like the speakers before and after him. The event, co-hosted by the various tea party groups throughout the state, featured many other conservative speakers, including Republican challengers in the 6th Congressional District, Andy Barr, and in the 3rd Congressional District, Todd Lally. Many other candidates this fall were also in the crowd, though not invited to speak.

Paul encouraged the tea party supporters to vote for candidates who would support balanced budgets and reducing the debt and would be most likely to keep those promises.

“I personally don’t believe we can elect enough good people,” Paul said. “Including Andy Barr and Todd Lally.”

Earlier in the day, U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning said Barr has “a shot” to defeat Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles and Lally has “a little shot” in Louisville to beat Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth.

—Reporting by Kenny Colston with video produced by Holly Thompson

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