Sen. Paul, back in surgeon's gown, removes cataracts pro bono, reaffirms Trump endorsement in Louisville

10/13/2016 03:32 PM

LOUISVILLE — The cataract that had affected his vision for about a decade gone, 63-year-old Carl Huffman couldn’t see much out of his right eye after surgery Thursday by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, but he could sense brighter colors as he lay on the operating table.

“I’m happy that it’s over and I got to see improvement already,” Huffman, of Keavy, said as he recovered from the procedure at Dupont Surgery Center. A clear, plastic shield covered his right eye.

The Laurel County resident wasn’t sure whether he would ever get relief from his cataract and said he’s looking forward to an end to the days of tripping over pets he can’t see scurrying beneath his feet.

Paul has performed scores of other pro bono eye surgeries since winning his seat in the U.S. Senate six years ago, and for him, it’s a rewarding experience.

“Patients can see better almost immediately, and in politics, it doesn’t always work out so quickly as far as getting results,” he told reporters after removing Huffman’s cataract. “… To be able to do something that actually can bring someone’s vision back, yeah, it’s an amazing thing, an amazing feeling.”

Dr. Frank Burns says this is the second time Paul has donned a surgeon’s gown at Dupont Surgery Center and that he appreciates the senator’s work in giving patients clear vision once again.

“We see these patients quite often that don’t have the means to pay for cataract surgery, and we’re really happy that we can provide that service for them,” Burns said. “… I just think it’s wonderful that we can offer that for the patients who don’t have the means to pay for cataract surgery.”

Huffman said he was happy with the surgery’s early results and would recommend others suffering from cataracts to have them removed.

“It’ll help you,” he said. “It’s a big difference when you see again. When you know you had vision and then you lose it and then it comes back, it’s great.”

Before returning to the operating room, Paul fielded the inevitable questions on presidential politics, particularly regarding Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign has hit rocky terrain, with more than two dozen Republican elected officials distancing themselves from their party’s nominee following the Friday release of a 2005 recording featuring Trump making vulgar comments about women. On Wednesday, a handful of women came forward with allegations that the Republican presidential nominee groped and harassed them.

Paul criticized Trump’s 2005 remarks after they were released and said Thursday that he still supports the GOP nominee’s bid for the presidency before declining to discuss the race further.

“I’m kind of taking a day off from politics,” Paul said. “That’s why I’m here in surgery so I don’t have to answer all those questions. Didn’t you see the sign outside that said no political questions in the operating room? But yes, I am endorsing him.”

Paul said he would “stick to the operating room today” when asked about the accusations against Trump, and he also declined to answer questions about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The campaign of Paul’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 8 Senate election, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, criticized the Republican’s continued support of Trump.

“After the heinous barbs those two have traded, I can’t imagine how Paul can support someone who has called him a disaster, made fun of his looks and said that he is using the people of Kentucky,” Gray spokeswoman Cathy Lindsey said in a statement. “Of course, someone who has declared that the ‘war on women’ is over – as Rand has – would not understand why Trump’s behavior is causing other Republicans to withdraw their support.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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