Posted at the Times-Tribune
By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Writer
Rand Paul filed for the U.S. Senate on Wednesday as a Republican but he said he comes from the TEA Party and “we’ve come to take our country back.”
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon and the son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, held a press conference at Republican Party of Kentucky headquarters after his campaign manager David Adams filed his candidacy papers in the office of Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Paul’s major opponent in the Republican primary. Grayson was not present.
About 10 Republicans who say Paul is “too kooky” to represent Kentucky were present, gathered in the capitol hallway, three of them wearing orange jump suits and posing as terrorist captives at Guantanamo Bay. They claim Paul has flipped flopped on statements about the controversial prison.
Later, down the street at RPK Paul said that’s not true, that Grayson supporters are simply making up purported Paul statements on the prison or taking them out of context.
“I believe in trying people in military tribunals at Guantanamo,” Paul said after his formal statement to supporters who crowded into the room. “I believe in keeping the prison open until we figure out what to do with all of them.”
Grayson’s campaign this week issued a press release which claimed Paul has previously supported deporting terrorists to their countries of origin, providing links to YouTube videos of Paul speeches as documentation of the claims.
Mike Bryant, a Breathitt County software consultant who is also Breathitt County Republican Chairman and who has contributed to Grayson’s campaign, operates a web site, “Too Kooky for Kentucky,” and he was on hand Wednesday outside the Secretary of State’s office to talk to reporters.
Bryant contends Paul isn’t a true Republican but a libertarian and he said Paul should file to run as a libertarian. He said Paul “evidently got scared and ran off somewhere else and let his campaign manager file for him.” Paul was in the capitol building but left for RPK while Adams filed the actual paperwork.
Bryant’s sentiment wasn’t in evidence in the RPK room where Paul made his formal announcement before about 50 enthusiastic supporters who chanted Paul’s name.
Paul told them the country had broken away from the “constitutional chains” which restrict government and “pork barrel politicians are spending our country into oblivion.”
He promised to vote against any unbalanced budget whether proposed by Republicans or Democrats though he qualified that afterward by saying there could be exceptions during times of “declared war.” Paul pointed out the country hasn’t declared war since World War II and the country should debate the advisability of going to war and formally declare war before doing so. He also conceded the national debt is large enough it probably isn’t practical to pay it off entirely but it must be reduced.
As for the protestors who then gathered on the sidewalk outside RPK, Paul noted he has risen in the polls from underdog, marginal candidate to current front runner – at least in a couple of polls. He said when he was behind, Republicans often told him he should observe the “Republican 11th Commandment” not to speak ill of other Republicans.
“Now the shoe is on the other foot,” but he’s being attacked by Republican establishment supporters of Grayson, Paul said.
Bill Johnson, an Elton businessman and veteran, has filed for the Republican nomination for Senate. Grayson has yet to file.