The Chatter: It's still all about Rand Paul

06/13/2010 04:39 PM

Here is the weekend’s round-up of Kentucky politics in the news. And once again it’s Rand Paul, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, making the headlines.

  • The Republicans’ embrace of Paul as their nominee continues to fascinate the media. The Herald-Leader’s Bill Estep has an article Sunday about how the party seems to be patching itself up after some GOP leaders, such as U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, endorsed Paul’s primary opponent, Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
  • In fact, the healing process has gone so well that McConnell is now co-hosting a fund-raiser for Paul in Washington on June 24, as first reported by Politico last week.
  • That prompted Paul’s Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, to call Paul hypocritical for “cozying up to Washington insiders he criticized during the primary,” according to a report by Associated Press’s Bruce Schreiner on Friday.
  • Another critic of Paul’s, blogger Joe Sonka at Barefoot and Progressive, pointed out Sunday that Paul’s campaign website took down a pledge Paul made last August not to take money from senators who supported the bank bailout bill, as McConnell did.
  • That June 24 fund-raiser leads off a week-long stretch of heavy duty fund-raising that will include an online “moneybomb” on June 28 as Schreiner reported as well as events in Lexington and Louisville that week, campaign chairman David Adams said.
  • But Paul wasn’t eager to answer questions about that — or anything else, for that matter. After a speech in Louisville on Saturday, Paul rebuffed reporters’ and told them to submit the questions in writing, as reported by cn|2 Politics.

(Paul did reference his new “friendship” with McConnell in his speech to Republican activists, though: “People say, ‘How can you work with Sen. McConnell?’ I say, ‘We’re best friends now. We have each other’s cell phone.’ And it’s true,” he said Saturday. “Sometimes the people in the media, in particular, want to make something out to be something it’s not. All throughout the campaign even though we weren’t on the same side — some of you in the room weren’t on the same side — I did say good things about him because I think he has been good as a minority leader.”)

  • And not just Kentucky reporters are having trouble getting a response from Paul. Natasha Lennard of reported that she spent a week trying to get a hold of someone in the campaign, at first to get a response to a question about Israel, and then just to see if she could reach someone.
  • At the same time, Paul’s background as an ophthalmologist has come under scrutiny for his decision to form his own organization rather than be certified as a eye surgery specialist by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Paul’s formation in 1999 of the alternative entity — the National Board of Ophthalmology — was first reported April 30 by blogger Jake Payne at pageonekentucky. On Sunday, the Courier-Journal’s Joe Gerth followed up on it (but it’s available only in print and online e-editions).
  • And the Herald-Leader’s John Cheves reported on Sunday that Paul’s practice received more than $130,000 in payments since 2006 from the Medicaid program, a state administered program paid for with federal funds to help cover health costs for the poor and disabled. The Paul campaign didn’t disclose to Cheves how much he billed Medicare, the federal program aimed at helping older Americans pay health bills. But Paul said before the May 18 primary that despite advocating for cutting government spending in most areas, he doesn’t want to see Medicare payments to doctors reduced.

- Ryan Alessi

(“The Chatter” is a periodic round-up of what the national and state media is saying about Kentucky politics)


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