Rand Paul apologizes for Fancy Farm beer remarks - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Rand Paul apologizes for Fancy Farm beer remarks

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Republican Rand Paul apologized Wednesday for saying he worried beer would be thrown at a church picnic he attended last weekend in western Kentucky.

The U.S. Senate candidate issued the apology through a statement from campaign manager Jesse Benton.

Paul told conservative radio personality Sean Hannity on Tuesday he worried people would throw beer on him at the picnic hosted by St. Jerome Catholic Church in Fancy Farm, a tiny agricultural community.

Parishioners complained that Paul's comments created a false perception of the event. Beer isn't served at the picnic. Alcohol sales are illegal in the community, and nothing was thrown at anyone.

The picnic is a fundraiser for St. Jerome and has traditionally attracted politicians from the across the state who want to glad-hand with attendees and deliver stump speeches.

The crowd is famous for spirited heckling and sign-waving, but the event is so family-focused that a mild oath by Democrat Jack Conway last year was still rankling Republicans this year.

"Dr. Paul was trying to convey just how enthusiastic the crowd was, and did not mean to imply there was alcohol being served," Benton said in the statement. "Rand has always enjoyed Fancy Farm, thinks it is a wonderful event, and apologizes to anyone he may have offended."

Over the past 130 years, the Fancy Farm picnic has evolved as the traditional kickoff of the fall campaign season in Kentucky.

Parishioner Mark Wilson said he fears Paul's remarks, delivered on the syndicated radio program heard across the country, could discourage families from coming to the picnic in the future.

"We were in a place called Fancy Farm, which is just a wild picnic where they boo your entire speech," Paul told Hannity.  "And it's a very partisan thing, and you do worry about people throwing beer on you and throwing things at you, so it is kind of a wild thing to run for office."

Wilson, who organizes the political speeches at the picnic, called for Paul to take back the comment.  "We have never known of any objects being thrown, and especially we've never heard of any problems with beer being thrown," Wilson said Tuesday. "It's the perception that we just have a bunch of rowdy, beer-drinking folks there, and that's a perception we don't want at St. Jerome."

Wilson said Wednesday that he appreciated Paul's apology, and said he'd be welcomed back to Fancy Farm in the future.  "I think it is very noble of the campaign," Wilson said. "I know Mr. Paul had no malicious intent in mind with the remarks."

Democrats shot back at Republicans over the Fancy Farm flap Wednesday, calling Paul's remarks "rude, backhanded and disgraceful."

Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon said Fancy Farm residents "have graciously welcomed folks from all over the commonwealth with open arms, and Rand Paul thanked them by turning around and slapping them in the face on national radio."

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