Republicans unite to use Obama, Pelosi and Reid as arguments against Conway

07/10/2010 04:10 PM

ERLANGERGOP U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul and Republican leaders sharpened their fall campaign messages Saturday, railing against Democrats on a host of fronts, chiefly spending, and working to link Kentucky Democrats to their Washington brethren.

Led by U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning — whose retirement is opening the seat that Paul and Democratic candidate Jack Conway are campaigning for — the Northern Kentucky Republican leaders mentioned the names of President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada two dozen times during an hour and half unity rally.

“Talk about rubber stamps, there’s one for Obama,” Bunning said of Conway, before quickly adding that Conway wouldn’t be one for Reid because “he’s going to get beat.” Reid faces a challenge this fall by Republican Sharron Angle, who is a favorite of the tea party movement just as Paul is.

At the end of his 21-minute remarks, Bunning turned to Paul and gave him an assignment.

“Rand, I’m going to give you a task. It’s not going to be easy. You have to make sure that we repeal that Obamacare,” Bunning said, referring to the health care bill Congress passed in March. The crowd of more than 200 activists stood and applauded. Paul raised his hand to jokingly pledge to do so.

“You must get together and elect this man because he will vote the right way against spending (money) that we don’t have,” Bunning said of Paul. “And I guarantee you he will stand up on his own if necessary.”

With Bunning, U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis of Hebron and state Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown offering much of the red meat conservative rallying cries and criticism of national Democrats, a relaxed Paul offered a comparatively reserved speech that focused on his key tenets of cutting spending and what he called the “ideas of reform” that are at the core of the tea party movement.

“Many conservative Democrats will come to our side,” Paul predicted. “Much of what the tea party is about and what people misunderstand is: the national media want to make you crazy right wing lunatics, yet most of the issues we talk about have broad bipartisan support. They’re ideas of reform. They’re ideas like, for goodness sake, why don’t we balance our budget.”

Paul called the $787 billion Recovery and Reinvestment Act from last year and the “cash for clunkers” program the “bread and circus” the federal government has offered to distract from the hard economic times and the national spending and debt problems.

And Paul praised Bunning as “a statesman” for standing on principles, such as earlier this year when he opposed an extension of unemployment insurance benefits because the bill didn’t offer a way to cover the cost, which would have violated the Senate’s self-imposed “pay-as-you-go” rule. While a majority of Senate Republicans distanced themselves from Bunning over his stance this spring, they adopted that position this summer when another extension of those benefits came up for a vote in June.

Bunning lambasted the Democrats for allowing the national debt to climb to $13 trillion and for pushing two consecutive budgets that were more than $1 trillion in the red. The 2011 budget bill Obama proposed was for $3.8 billion in spending, which would create a deficit of $1.6 billion. So far, Congress has been unwilling to act on it.

But he didn’t just blame the Obama administration for the deficit and the spending issues, calling it “foolishness that’s been going on for the last four years.”

“That’s two years under the George W. Bush administration,” Bunning said, which sparked applause from many of the tea party movement supporters in the audience. “And two under Barack Obama.”

Davis, the two-term congressman from Hebron, offered other criticisms of the Obama administration.

“I never in my lifetime, when I was raising my right hand to swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, did I think I would see the United States government — the Department of Justice — filing a suit against a state that is simply passing a law to enforce the existing federal law,” Davis said, sparking a standing ovation and one of the loudest reactions of the morning. “I will stand before any power in this country, any journalistic idiot in the national media who wants to talk to me about my views.”

And Davis poked at the Obama administration for charging NASA Administrator Charles Bolden with reaching out to the Muslim world as part of the space agency’s mission, which Bolden recently told Al Jazeera in an interview.

“There are a lot of ways to do that, but it’s not using our space agency that can be a key to job creation and the development of new technology in the 21st century,” Davis said.

However, much the rest of the talk about job creation at the GOP rally was focused on how government isn’t the main driver for jobs.

Paul, for instance, said the Democrats believe “government will create the jobs versus our philosophy that the private marketplace and business creates jobs.”

Also at the Saturday morning event at the Erlanger Holiday Inn, Paul appeared with Secretary of State Trey Grayson, his GOP primary opponent, for the first time since a statewide unity rally after the May primary. Paul beat Grayson in the election by 24 points.

Grayson made a point to shake Paul’s hand on stage because he said some in the media wrote that the two didn’t do so at the earlier rally in Frankfort. Grayson then stressed how crucial a unified party will be.

“If you look at the other party and some of the struggles they’re having with unity, or lack thereof, we have a real opportunity in this election, and we have the summer to come together and get organized,” Grayson said.

- Ryan Alessi


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