Paul trying to get back on message but still might not debate, manager says

10/21/2010 08:54 AM

(With video) BOWLING GREEN — The campaign manager for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul told reporters Wednesday that Democratic candidate Jack Conway’s ad had diverted the campaign from some of the hallmark issues Paul had been talking about, such as debt and shrinking the government.

“It’s time to start talking about the issues again,” Jesse Benton said during a question and answer session with reporters after Kelley Paul made a statement expressing her frustration at Conway’s ad. “You’re right — we’ve been talking about faith. We’ve been talking about gutter politics.”

At the same time, Benton said the Paul campaign wants to “highlight” Conway’s ad as “a bad choice” and denied that the ad had affected Paul’s base of support.

Benton said it’s still uncertain whether Paul will participate in Monday’s debate with Conway on Kentucky Educational Television. But he did say that the Paul campaign will “insist that this campaign will be brought back to” issues such as health care, government spending and the deficit.

He said the decision about the debate will be made in the next couple days.

“He’s going to make a decision as to whether it’s best to get back on KET and talk to people one more time about the issues that are facing us in this campaign and in this country and this state, or should he not take part with someone who is personally smearing him,” Benton said.

Here’s the Q and A:

Conway’s ad has questioned Paul’s decisions in college, such as joining an underground group at Baylor University that was known for satirical writings about Christianity and religion, in general.

It has caused a stir among national and state politicos and has dominated the race since Conway’s campaign began airing it on Friday.

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