CALVERT CITY — A stream of confident Republican candidates, concluding with U.S. Senate Republican nominee Rand Paul, said Friday night that President Barack Obama's unpopular policies will propel them to victory in November.
"There is a huge movement going on in this country, and they can't stop us," Paul told an enthusiastic crowd of about 150 people at the Calvert City Community Center.
Meanwhile, Democrats gathered a few miles away to hear their U.S. Senate nominee, Jack Conway, and others paint Paul as too risky for Kentucky and the nation.
The contrasting views came at party rallies held in Marshall County on the eve of Saturday's 130th annual Fancy Farm political picnic, which traditionally kicks off fall elections in Kentucky.
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Conway said he will use political theater at Saturday's picnic to illustrate that Paul has backed away from controversial statements, such as questions Paul raised about portions of the federal Civil Rights Act.
That theater, he said, would involve "Rand's Waffle House."
"We're going to leave that Paul campaign scattered, smothered, covered and diced ..." Conway told several hundred people gathered at Kentucky Dam Village,
Paul focused more on national Democratic personalities in his speech, claiming that the Republican Party is growing because "what's going on in Washington is really a travesty."
He unloaded on Obama, saying the president "is wrong on every issue of the day."
Paul promised to be "straight and honest" with Kentuckians, saying he won't bring home so-called "pork projects" if it means raising taxes or increasing foreign debt.
He also alluded to controversial comments he recently made about federal farm subsidies. He said he favors crop insurance for farmers, but he promised to eliminate financial "abuses" in the farm program.
Conway said Paul opposes programs that help Kentuckians.
"This state, this beloved commonwealth, this nation, cannot afford Rand Paul," Conway said.
The state's attorney general contended that Paul opposes price supports for farmers and rules that protect coal miners and the environment.
But, Conway said, Paul doesn't want to cut Medicaid payments because they benefit doctors like him. Paul is an eye surgeon from Bowling Green.
"He's against every single federal government program except those that feather his nest," he said.
Joining in the chorus against Paul at the Democratic rally were Gov. Steve Beshear and former Gov. Paul Patton.
Patton accused Paul of offering simplistic solutions to complex problems.
State Senate President David Williams, a Burkesville Republican who is considering a race for governor next year, told the GOP crowd that "Washington needs a good dose of Rand Paul" and that he welcomes the Tea Party movement into the Republican Party.
Williams also stressed the need for Kentuckians to elect Republicans to the state legislature to make sure the redrawing of legislative district boundary lines next year will not hurt the GOP.
Also speaking at the GOP rally was Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, who recently announced his candidacy for governor in 2011 on a slate with state Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville.
He received loud applause when he said government should serve the people "the same way we Christians serve at the foot of the cross."
State Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson took a shot at House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, saying Stumbo should "trade his three-piece suit in for a dress" because "he's looking more like Nancy Pelosi," the Democratic leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who lost to Paul in May's GOP primary election, said before the rally began that he thinks Paul will win the Nov. 2 general election, but "I don't think this race is over."