FRANKFORT, Ky. — Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul and top GOP leaders preached unity at a state rally Saturday at party headquarters but steered clear of Paul’s controversial comments that have overshadowed his campaign in recent days.
Paul and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who supported Secretary of State Trey Grayson in last Tuesday’s GOP primary election for the U.S. Senate, said nothing during their speeches about Paul's heavily publicized comments about anti-discrimination laws, the Obama administration and last month’s coal mine collapse in Western Kentucky that killed two workers.
Paul and McConnell did not take questions from reporters after the rally, which attracted several hundred people and about 25 protesters.
Several party loyalists at the rally claimed the media have distorted Paul's statements and that they will not hurt him in his Nov. 2 general election against Democratic nominee Jack Conway, the state’s attorney general from Louisville.
"The more some gang up on Dr. Paul, the more others will solidly be behind him," said Paul Salamanca, a University of Kentucky professor and a Republican.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon making his first bid for public office, said in recent media interviews that private businesses should be able to decide whether they want to serve minorities, even though he abhors racism and discrimination.
He also said President Obama sounded "un-American" for criticizing BP for the Gulf Coast oil spill and that "sometimes accidents happen" when discussing the recent coal mine fatalities.
Paul, with Republican leaders and his wife, Kelley, at his side, was greeted with the loudest and most sustained applause of the day.
"What unifies Republicans is a belief in individual freedom — a belief that our liberties is derived from our Creator and not man," Paul told the crowd.
"What unifies Republicans is a belief that the Constitution restrains the size and scope of government."
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