Separated by 285 miles and a chasmic ideological difference on the role of government, Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates on Monday are both set to make a case for the best way to fight drug abuse.
The appearances provide an opportunity to practically contrast Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul.
Conway's campaign says his eastern Kentucky roundtable comes after Paul said drug addiction was not a real "pressing issue" in the campaign. Conway will appear with Wolfe County (140 miles southwest of Louisville) law enforcement and business leaders "focusing on the needs of Eastern Kentuckians facing the scourge of illegal drugs in their communities."
While Conway touts the importance of federal dollars to support local drug abuse problems, i.e. Operation UNITE, Paul will appear with Hopkins County prosecutor Todd P'Pool to discuss drug issues in Kentucky at a faith-based addiction recovery center that P'Pool founded and serves as its President. The Wingshadow Lodge of The Western Kentucky Teen Challenge is in Dixon, Kentucky (148 miles southwest of Louisville). The Paul campaign says it "was constructed and is maintained at no cost to the taxpayers," and claims an "86% success rate for its participants."
According to its website, the Western Kentucky Teen Challenge is one of about 175 "Teen Challenge" programs in the United States and about 150 more in other countries. The first was in 1960, founded by a Pentecostal minister from Pennsylvania who had interrupted a murder trial in New York City in an attempt to preach to seven accused gang members.
Most of the centers offer a 12-18 month residential program for men, women, boys, or girls. These centers are designed to help individuals learn how to live drug-free lives. The programs are discipline-oriented and offer a balance of Bible classes, work assignments, and recreation.
The Conway campaign says the difference in the two candidates' positions on drug abuse treatment is a major factor behind Conway's ten point jump in the Insight Cable poll of the Senate race.
Two weeks later, after Paul's remarks, people have looked at Jack Conway's record of protecting people as Kentucky's attorney general and decided to come on board. It mirrors a trend we've seen all over the state, but we still need to get more people on board -- around Kentucky and around America.
-- Campaign manager Jonathan Drobis in an e-mail to Conway supporters
The Paul campaign notes that the Teen Challenge received the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan and Reverend Billy Graham.
Paul, meanwhile, has not said if he will return a campaign contribution from the co-founder of an adult website that features scantily clad and nude women. The Associated Press' Bruce Schreiner broke the story on Friday:
Paul's campaign issued a statement saying the Republican candidate — a father of three boys and husband of a church deacon — condemns pornography and considers it degrading to women. The campaign said it "cannot be expected to run background checks on all 25,000 donors who share his stances on issues like balanced budgets, reduced federal spending, opposition to `Obamacare' and the reckless behavior in Washington."
The Paul campaign says it "scored big with his two-day online fundraising event" on Thursday and Friday. A news release on Friday trumpeted that the "money bomb" had raised more than $250,000 in two days. A check of the campaign website suggests that two day take is closer to $264,000. It appears that it is Paul's biggest Internet fundraiser since his first "money bomb" one year ago to the day. August 20 is the birthday of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Rand Paul's father.
Rand Paul Moneybombs/Moneyblasts
Aug. 20, 2009: $430,000
Sep. 23, 2009: $186,000
Dec. 16, 2009: $200,000+
Jun. 28, 2010: $135,000+
August 19/20, 2010: $264,000