Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul is repeating his defense of BP, saying "pointing fingers" right now will not help clean up the oil spill.
Paul has been prodded by high-ranking Republicans to avoid controversial comments, and after a media firestorm has since clarified remarks on the Civil Rights Act. Yet, Paul does not appear to be backing off his condemnation of the Obama administration's attitude toward BP, which Paul has said sounded "really un-American in his criticism of business."
In a new interview with WBKO-TV in Bowling Green, Paul again called for restraint.
"I mean really, when you have a disaster of these proportions, everybody should be working together instead of pointing fingers and saying, 'Your fault, your fault, your fault.'" Paul said, "We'll eventually figure that out and that's an important process, but right now let's clean it up."
The campaign of Democratic Senate Candidate Jack Conway has seized on Paul's past comment, saying Paul "would not hold BP accountable or punish the company for its negligence."
Paul begs to differ.
"So, I'd say the Coast Guard and BP should be working together, and that's kinda what we've finally done now," Paul continued.
Paul - a Bowling Green eye surgeon - is also defending his past decisions not to renew his board certification through the standard American Board of Ophthalmology. Instead, Paul claims to be a "board-certified" ophthalmologist by his homemade, National Board of Ophthalmology.
"There some older ophthalmologists in town who took the same exam as me and never recertified," Paul told WBKO's Gene Birk, "And the board says, 'Oh, that's fine.' The younger doctors need to do it but the older doctor's don't. I think the doctors that have been in practice longer, may need it as much or more than anybody else."
It remains to be seen how Paul's supporters will react to the recent developments, including how Paul's anti-establishment supporters will approve of his new attitude toward establisment Senators.
On June 24, Paul is scheduled to attend a fund-raising dinner at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington. His campaign manager tells the Washington Post that Paul's pledge during the primary not to accept contributions from senators who voted in favor of bailouts no longer applies during the fall campaign.
"Rand Paul's flip-flops, double standards and inability to give voters straight answers raise serious questions about his character, principles and capacity to lead," said Conway spokeswoman Allison Haley in a statement.
Meanwhile, Paul s campaign is also responding to the Conway camp's criticism of his accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients while working to abolish or downsize other parts of the federal bureaucracy.
"My practice sees patients with Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and people who pay themselves," Paul said in a statement, "I also do considerable pro-bono work for poor and needy Kentuckians. I don’t discriminate in my practice, and though I’d prefer to have less government intervention in the area of medicine, I put my patients first in this matter. My medical practice has never been about political ideology or running for office. Jack Conway can’t understand that because he’s never been anything other than a career politician, with every move calculated to score political points or move up the ladder to his next job."
Conway news release
PAUL CONDEMNED FOR ABANDONING PRINCIPLES, DODGING QUESTIONS
Raises Questions about Paul's Character, Principles and Capacity to Lead
LOUISVILLE - Over the last few days, Rand Paul has continued to weave, dodge, backpedal and spin, and two of Kentucky's largest newspapers are calling him to account for his actions. Today the Lexington Herald-Leader and Louisville Courier-Journal published editorials condemning Paul for abandoning his principles on government spending, breaking his promise never to take campaign contributions from senators who voted for the bailout, and claiming to have medical credentials he doesn't have.
The Herald-Leader on Rand Paul abandoning his principles on government spending:
"It's only June, but collisions between reality and the ideals of Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul are lighting up the sky like bottle rockets on the third of July…At the junction of principle and pragmatism, Paul denounces big government and its costs and intrusiveness, but depends on the little things that big government does for him. Paul's campaign told reporter John Cheves that about half of his medical income comes from payments by Medicaid and Medicare, entitlement programs for the elderly, poor and disabled."
The Herald-Leader on Rand Paul breaking his promise not to accept financial help from "bailout backers":
"Paul promised during the primary campaign to refuse contributions from any lawmaker who supported government bailouts of banks. But now he's agreed to be the guest of honor at a D.C. fund-raiser hosted by the Republican Senatorial Committee, which includes lawmakers who voted for bank bailouts. Seats will go for $1,000 to $5,000. His campaign apparently pulled from its Web site his earlier promise to reject contributions from bailout backers."
The Courier-Journal on Rand Paul claiming to have a medical certification he doesn't have:
"…it's always a good thing to tell the truth. Dr. Paul, however, skirted around it. He said in a May interview with The Courier-Journal that he was certified by both ophthalmological boards. That wasn't the case. A spokesman later said Dr. Paul misspoke because the question was unclear, but it's hard to see how the phrasing of a question could lead to such a direct and inaccurate response…one hopes that Dr. Paul's National Board of Ophthalmology doesn't reflect his professional standards, either in medicine or in politics…The board has no website, and its standards for certifying doctors are unclear. How does it produce better doctors and better health care?…this seems to be another example of Dr. Paul's disturbing hostility toward any regulation and oversight…this episode does raise legitimate concerns about his candor, judgment and values."
The Herald-Leader on dodging reporters:
"All this may come as a disappointment to Kentuckians who were drawn to Paul's conservative/libertarian principals and his formerly refreshing candor. In a major turnaround, he's begun refusing reporters' questions unless they're in writing."
The two editorials add to the growing chorus of newspapers and columnists who have criticized Paul for changing his positions. For example, Herald columnist Larry Dale Keeling recently criticized Paul for "flips and flops on such subjects as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, [and] the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico."
"Rand Paul's flip-flops, double standards and inability to give voters straight answers raise serious questions about his character, principles and capacity to lead. Paul is clearly influenced by whatever or whomever lines his pockets more than by what is good for Kentucky. We deserve a senator like Jack Conway who has a record of getting positive results for Kentucky and will create jobs, cut the deficit and bring accountability to Wall Street and Washington," said Conway spokesperson Allison Haley.
Rand Paul on Medicare/Medicaid
BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY – Today, Senate Candidate Rand Paul issued the following statement.
“My opponent has now seized on a new false attack that seems almost too silly to defend. I’ve been accused of – wait for it – taking Medicare and Medicaid payments in my medical practice. This is quite the scandal. I’m not sure why my opponent wants me to not see the poor or the elderly, you’ll have to ask him that yourself.
“Let me first state my positions on these programs, then a bit more about my medial practice.
“First, I am certainly in favor of fixing Medicare and Medicaid. Unlike my opponent, but like most Americans, I recognize that Medicare and Social Security are unsustainable in their current form. Where we used to have seven workers for every one on Social Security or Medicare, we will soon have only one. This means that, if we do nothing, we will have to double or triple the taxes to pay for these programs, or let the system collapse and strip millions of seniors of their healthcare. Both options are immoral and unthinkable.
“It has also been alleged that I am against cutting doctor’s fees. That is not true. The fact is, doctor’s fees have been reduced by nearly 50% in the last 15 years already, and are the only budget item I know of that is reduced, by law, every year without a vote.
“I simply think we should subject all federal programs to this type of budgeting. I wonder if my opponent will agree to have every federal program cut by law unless Congress overrules that cut. Otherwise, why are we singling out one group, a group that has already been cut 50%?
“I have also consistently called for common sense Medicaid reform so that doctors get a tax credit for their Medicaid work, rather than having a huge bureaucracy and thousands of forms to file. I have publicly advocated this for years.
“But getting back to my practice, let me elaborate a bit. My practice sees patients with Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and people who pay themselves. I also do considerable pro-bono work for poor and needy Kentuckians. I don’t discriminate in my practice, and though I’d prefer to have less government intervention in the area of medicine, I put my patients first in this matter. My medical practice has never been about political ideology or running for office. Jack Conway can’t understand that because he’s never been anything other than a career politician, with every move calculated to score political points or move up the ladder to his next job.
“My career has been about building a medical practice that helps people. Nothing more, nothing less. Throughout my practice I have not sought office before this year.
“Medicare and Medicaid patients are often rejected by doctors – because of the paperwork, bureaucracy and lower payments. I receive far less payment from Medicaid patients than I would if I only saw private patients.
“But I take it because it serves the needs of my patients. To do otherwise would not fit with my personal view of medicine. I also do private charity, performing surgery on people with no insurance through a local nonprofit. Perhaps my opponent can find a way to criticize that as well.
“It’s interesting to me that this is a topic on which my opponent thinks he can score cheap political points. He’s a career politician, and a serial office seeker. He’s not even 40, yet he’s run for Congress twice and been Attorney General.
“I think what we’re seeing here is someone who sees the entire world through the prism of politics. While politics is important, not everything is about politics. That’s a lesson my opponent would do well to learn.”