Republican Rand Paul criticized his three chief rivals in the race for U.S. Senate for not attending a public forum for the candidates Wednesday at the University of Kentucky.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, accused Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway of "elitism and arrogance" for not appearing at the event, which attracted more than 100 people.
He said he thought Grayson, a fellow Republican, was "too busy reviewing the latest poll results" to attend the forum.
A poll released Tuesday by WHAS11/Survey USA showed Paul, the son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, ahead of Grayson by 3 percentage points in their race to win next May's GOP primary election for the U.S. Senate.
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The poll showed Mongiardo leading Conway 39 percent to 28 percent in the Democratic contest.
Six of the nine announced candidates for the seat now held by retiring Sen. Jim Bunning appeared at Wednesday's forum at UK's King Library.
Buck Ryan, director of the Citizen Kentucky Project that put on the forum, said it was designed to get young people involved in civic life.
Paul took off on the absences of Grayson, Mongiardo and Conway.
He called it unfortunate that the three elected officials "couldn't drive the 20 or so miles from Frankfort to be at the forum" while he drove more than 100 miles from Bowling Green.
"It's a disservice to the voters they are not here," he said. "It should shame all three of them. I guess it is part of their elitism and arrogance."
Paul also said he is willing to debate Grayson "any time, any place."
Grayson's campaign manager, Nate Hodson, said Grayson was in Frankfort on Wednesday "performing his duties as secretary of state" on the first day of candidate filings for next year's political races.
Hodson noted Grayson did call into the forum to explain his absence — a move Ryan allowed but that did not please Paul and his supporters.
Hodson also said the U.S. Senate candidates will participate in debates and that they will be at the Kentucky Association of Counties winter conference Nov. 19 in Louisville.
The KACo Web site for the conference lists Grayson speaking on Nov. 17 as a state constitutional officer but not at the Nov. 19 candidates' forum.
Hodson said that is a mistake and that Grayson will speak at both.
Mongiardo's campaign spokesman, Kim Geveden, said Mongiardo did not attend the UK forum because he had other campaign commitments.
Conway said he missed the forum because he had to go with his baby daughter to a doctor's visit.
Republican candidates at the UK forum in addition to Paul were Todd County businessman Bill Johnson, Northern Kentucky consultant Roger Thoney and Oldham County teacher Brian Oerther.
The Democratic candidates present were former U.S. Customs agent Darlene Fitzgerald Price of McCreary County and Eastwood businessman Maurice Sweeney.