Conway challenges Paul's values in latest TV ad

Conway challenges Paul's values in latest TV ad

Rand Paul, Jack Conway


by AP

Posted on October 17, 2010 at 9:03 AM

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) -- The leader of Kentucky's mountain Republicans predicted Saturday that U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul will win his race, despite a blistering new attack ad that charges the tea party favorite worshipped a false god, a no-no among Kentucky conservatives.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers appeared with Paul at a GOP picnic in Somerset on Saturday, the same day TV stations across the state began airing perhaps the harshest ad of the campaign: It repeats published claims that Paul belonged to a secret society in college that called the Bible a hoax and that his god was "Aqua Buddha."

The Paul campaign called the ad "shameful and despicable." Paul said "they will be hearing from me on this."

The joint appearance with Rogers was crucial for Paul, who has faced criticism in the region because of his lack of support for a federally funded anti-drug task force known as Operation UNITE, a pet project for Rogers. Rogers urged some 300 Republicans gathered at the Pulaski County Fairgrounds on Saturday to vote for all the Republicans on the ballot, though he mentioned none of them by name in his speech, not even Paul.

"I think he'll win it big," Rogers said of Paul. "Except for UNITE, he's on track with our people's beliefs. And he's right on the coal industry, which is terribly important in this area."

Paul's Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, rotated in two new ads overnight Friday at a cost of about $322,000, and by Saturday they were running across the state. One criticizes Paul for being lax on coal mine safety, an issue of importance in Kentucky's coal-rich mountain region. The other, raising the issue of the secret society, stands out in airwaves already clogged with campaign ads.

"They're going to stoop to the worst of the worst," Paul said in his Somerset speech. "It's already out there, and we're going to be talking about that in the next day. You're going to hear more about it. But I'm not going to allow them to attack me personally. I take it personally, and they are going to hear from me on this."

The ad is based on published reports that Paul, during his college years, was a member of a secret society at Baylor University known as the NoZe Brotherhood. A narrator in the ad asks why Paul, while in college, tied a woman up and told her to worship Aqua Buddha. Those claims by an anonymous woman were made in articles in GQ Magazine and The Washington Post earlier this year.

At the time, Paul called the articles ridiculous.

The Paul campaign released a statement Saturday charging that Conway "stepped way over the line," calling the ad "shameful and despicable."

"Rather than address the pressing issues of our time, Jack Conway is shamelessly doing what so many desperate politicians do at the last minute -- resorting to revolting personal smears," Paul spokesman Gary Howard said in a statement.

Paul released a statement calling himself "a pro-life Christian." He said "I have never written or spoken anything that would indicate otherwise."

Phyllis Hogston, 68, of Somerset, had seen the attack before going to the Republican gathering Saturday afternoon. As a Republican and a church-goer, she was not pleased.

"That's about as low as anybody can go," she said. "It didn't make me mad. It made me feel sorry that they are willing to stoop so low to win a political race."

Conway spokeswoman Allison Haley said in a statement that values matter in an election.

"Rand Paul chose to join a secret society the University had banned for being grossly sacrilegious. And tying up a woman, no matter what the reason, is nothing to laugh at," Haley said.