LOUISVILLE — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear sharply criticized Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul on Thursday, telling a farm group of about 1,600 that Paul's agricultural policies would hurt them.
Without mentioning Paul by name, Beshear said Kentuckians are hearing "a lot of loose political talk" about the need to eliminate federal programs that provide a safety net for farmers, such as farm subsidies and efforts to "shutter the doors" of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
After the 47th annual Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast, the Democratic governor told reporters he was referring to comments by Paul. "Anybody who takes that attitude toward farming doesn't know much about farming," Beshear said.
Paul had left the breakfast and was not immediately available to comment on Beshear's remarks, but he had said earlier that Democrats are misrepresenting his views.
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Paul has said federal farm subsidies are generally not a good idea and that government should have tighter controls on them to get rid of waste. He also has said he is not for the elimination of the Agriculture Department but that some of its programs are wasteful.
The Kentucky Democratic Party distributed to people at the breakfast a mock check worth "$0.00" dated "11/3/10," a day after the Nov. 2 general election.
It was made out to Kentucky Farmers, and signed by "Rand Paul." In its memo line was written, "Don't spend it all in one place! Rand."
The fake check also said on the back that Paul has called for the elimination of farm subsidies and that he "also wants to do away with the Department of Agriculture, the federal department that monitors the safety of the food we eat, helps open new global agricultural markets for Kentucky products and supports the rights of rural agricultural workers."
"When it comes to Kentucky agriculture, Rand Paul is a few pumpkins short of a patch," the check said.
Most of Beshear's comments at the breakfast, sponsored by the Kentucky Farm Bureau and held at the state fair, dealt with his administration's work for Kentucky's agricultural economy.
That prompted U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville to tell the crowd that he first thought Beshear was going to announce his re-election efforts.
McConnell later was asked if he supports federal farm subsidies. He said he has voted for most federal farm bills.
Paul and his Democratic challenger, Jack Conway, shook hands with breakfast attendees in a greeting line before the breakfast.
Conway, the state's attorney general, told reporters that Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, "just doesn't get Kentucky."
Paul said he was not surprised about Conway's remark.
"When you are behind in the race, you attack the front-runner," Paul said.
Paul said Conway needs to spend more time explaining to Kentuckians why he supports programs pushed by President Barack Obama, such as an overhaul of health insurance approved earlier this year.