FRANKFORT — In his new book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul recounts his tense meeting last year with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in a Louisville airport hangar with Secret Service surrounding them.
McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, was raising campaign money for Paul's opponent, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, in the Republican primary election for the Senate.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon who rode a wave of support from the Tea Party movement to win his first race for public office, said he tried "to keep the conversation light."
"As our meeting continued," Paul said, "Senator McConnell reiterated that he didn't want to get involved in the primary. I thought to myself, 'Not get involved — I wonder what it would mean if he did get involved."
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Paul writes of his historic 2010 campaign and his eventual working relationship with McConnell in his 249-page book, now on sale for $21.99.
It primarily provides a spirited defense of his belief in Tea Party principles. An extra is a list of books Paul calls "must-read classics." They range from The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
Paul, the son of Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, presents the Tea Party movement and its message of limited government spending as "the most revolutionary force in politics today."
He criticizes President Barack Obama's "big-government agenda" but bristles at the suggestion the movement is against Obama because he is black.
"The Tea Party doesn't see politics in black and white," Paul wrote, "but black and red — even as its critics continue to see racism when it simply does not exist."
Paul, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for president some day, is scheduled to appear on CBS's Late Show With David Letterman on Thursday to discuss the book. He has scheduled book signings in San Diego on Saturday; Arlington, Va., next week; and in Louisville and Bowling Green on March 5.
Paul wrote the book with Jack Hunter, a Charleston, S.C., conservative radio talk-show host. It is published by Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Groups Inc.
In an interview about the book earlier this week, Paul said he wanted to "further the message that both parties need public surveillance, public scrutiny and the public to force them to be better people in taking care of the people's money."
The Tea Party movement does that, Paul argues.
He does not let Republicans who push big government off the hook. Some of his sharpest barbs are directed at former President George W. Bush.
"Any self-described conservative who 'misses' the last president and his version of the Republican Party should probably quit subscribing to that label," Paul wrote. "If judgment is based on spending and the budget, then Bill Clinton should be considered preferable to Bush, given that he spent less money than his successor."
Paul said America must refocus on the Constitution.
"Returning to the Constitution will necessarily mean seriously reducing, substantively reforming or even abolishing much of the national security state, the national education state, the national energy state, the national health care state, and countless other areas in which our federal government has drastically overstepped its constitutional boundaries," he wrote.
Asked whether he envisions the Tea Party movement becoming a third, viable political party, Paul said, "I don't think so."
"Right now it is a great advantage to us in the Republican Party because it has grown the Republican Party," he said.
The movement will last, he said, "as long as government continues with excessive spending."
Paul said he would have preferred that his book had "spent even more time" on his 2010 campaign against Grayson in the GOP primary and Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in the general election.
"But the publisher believed that would have made it too parochial, and they were looking at a national audience," he said.
The book does make a veiled reference to Conway's controversial "Aqua Buddha" campaign ad about an incident at Baylor University in the early 1980s in which a woman, who has remained anonymous, said Paul, as part of an odd fraternity prank, tried to get her to smoke pot and made her bow down to worship "Aqua Buddha."
Paul has called the accusations "all lies."
"To my dismay and disgust, my Democratic opponent also tried to attack my Christian faith during the election by wildly misconstruing anonymous accusations about my college days that had made national headlines," Paul wrote in his book.
Paul added: "My Democratic opponent got what he deserved on November 2, 2010 — and so did Kentucky."