Conway hits Paul on crime issue in ad - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Conway hits Paul on crime issue in ad

Jack Conway Jack Conway
Rand Paul Rand Paul

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Democrat Jack Conway portrays Rand Paul as soft on crime in the first negative ad between the U.S. Senate hopefuls, using the Republican's words against him and showing a sheriff condemning his comments as "crazy."

The 30-second ad that began airing across Kentucky on Tuesday continues a theme for Conway, the state's attorney general who is trying to elevate crime and fighting drug abuse as a central issue in the Senate race.

The ad digs up a Nov. 24, 2008, clip from the Kentucky Educational Television commentary program "Kentucky Tonight," in which Paul said: "I'm for having crimes and having laws against things that are violent crimes but things that are nonviolent shouldn't be against the law."

The ad then switches to Union County Sheriff Mike Thompson, who says: "Thinks nonviolent crime shouldn't be against the law? That's crazy." Thompson and other sheriffs then list a litany of nonviolent crimes -- including burglary, theft, mortgage fraud, Wall Street fraud and promoting prostitution.

"It should be against the law if you sell drugs to a minor," McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden says in the commercial, adding that Kentucky needs a senator who will "treat criminals like criminals."

A spokesman for the Paul campaign said Conway was "desperately clutching at straws."

"Jack supports Barack Obama's liberal D.C. agenda of socialized healthcare, out of control spending," Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement. He said Conway's positions on those issues "disqualify him with the majority of Kentucky voters."

While Conway's ad was the first attack ad by either of the two candidates, it wasn't the first negative ad of their fall campaign.

Conway was targeted in ads by a political group affiliated with some former top GOP officials that criticized him for refusing to join some other attorneys general in challenging key provisions of the health care law.

Paul kept his focus Tuesday on the health care overhaul that presents a clear contrast with Conway. Paul wants to repeal the landmark law, while Conway has said he would have voted for it though he thinks it can be improved.

Paul visited a Lexington company that makes loudspeakers to amplify his contention that the health care law will burden businesses with extra costs through higher premiums to insure workers. He said those higher costs threaten to choke off an economic recovery.

"We have a really bad problem, an enormous recession going on, and ... we don't get out of it easily by adding more government regulations and more government cost," he said.

Kathy Gornik, president and CEO of Thiel Audio Products Co., said she has little faith in the health care law, adding that a free-market approach would be more effective in holding down costs.

Uncertainty about the law's eventual cost on her business is making her cautious, she said.

"We're hanging onto our money, we're being very, very conservative," Gornik said. "I'm outsourcing as many possible kinds of services that I can because I cannot afford to hire."

Conway's commercial, meanwhile, showed how both campaigns are trying to frame the debate.

The libertarian-leaning Paul made the comments that spurred the Conway ad at the end of the 2008 program in which the main topic was that year's state budget shortfall. At the time, Paul was chairman of the anti-tax group Kentucky Taxpayers United. The discussion leading up to the quote concerned whether the state should expand gambling and/or raise taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to raise revenue.

The quote taken in its entirety says: "I'm against legislating morality. I'm for having crimes and having laws against things that are violent crimes but things that are nonviolent shouldn't be against the law."

Paul found himself on the defensive on the drug issue recently after The Associated Press quoted him saying he doesn't think drugs are a "real pressing issue" in the Senate race.

Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, has since offered assurances that he realizes drug abuse is a problem.

Conway spokesman John Collins called the latest ad buy "substantial" but declined to give a dollar figure.

It follows Conway's debut TV ad of the fall campaign season that touted the Democrat as tough on crime and showed sheriffs boasting of his record as attorney general. That ad mentioned Conway's work to crack down on Internet child pornography, elder abuse and the illegal prescription drug trade.

Conway and Paul are competing to replace Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring after two terms.

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