FRANKFORT, Ky. – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul said Monday that Washington lawmakers are showing no consideration for future generations with deficit spending that is passing an "enormous burden of debt" on to America's children and grandchildren.
Paul made the comments during a friendly interview on conservative talk radio, breaking his silence weeks after his negative statements about the U.S. Civil Rights Act set off a political firestorm.
Paul criticized lawmakers for taking home the bacon while at the same time promising to solve the nation's financial problems.
"And unfortunately," he said, "that's what the policy makers in Washington say: 'In the long run we'll be dead, but I win the next election by bringing you home the bacon.'"
Paul also touted a proposal to require lawmakers to balance the federal budget in the interview with George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams, who served as guest host on the Rush Limbaugh Show.
"But I would do it only through cutting spending," he said. "I think our taxes are already plenty high enough."
Paul didn't mention specific cuts in the interview, but he has repeatedly called for a ban on congressional earmarks.
The small-town eye doctor had retreated from the national scene after his May 18 GOP primary victory, when he suggested that government should not require private businesses to serve minorities.
Campaign manager Jesse Benton said Paul's absence from the airwaves was because he has been preparing for a tough general campaign and tending to his ophthalmology practice.
In the nearly 20-minute discussion with Williams, Paul talked primarily about the need for reigning in congressional spending, freezing government pay and hiring and across-the-board spending cuts. Paul said the country faces dire consequences unless Congress changes its spending habits, including raising the eligibility age for future Social Security recipients.
"I acknowledge that the system is broken, and if we just keep borrowing, we could destroy the entire system," Paul said. "Then, there would be no Social Security, no Medicare and no government because we will be drowning in the sea of debt or destroy the currency in the process."
Benton had said last week that Paul is being more selective about interview requests, saying he would give "priority to people who are going to give a fair story and not practice a 'gotcha journalism' that can be so destructive."
Paul sparked widespread anger with his remarks last month to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that he has misgivings about the Civil Rights Act. Paul told Maddow he abhors racial discrimination but suggested that the federal government should not have the power to force restaurants to serve minorities if owners don't want to.
His remarks sparked protests outside Kentucky's Republican Party headquarters and he canceled an appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Paul addressed the civil rights issue again on Saturday, writing in the Daily News of Bowling Green that his reputation had been "sullied."
He wrote that he never called for a repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"I stated that 'I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I'm all in favor of that,'" he said in the essay. "In response, the interviewer asked me about private domains, and I did what typical candidates don't — I discussed some philosophical issues with government mandating rules on private businesses. I think the federal government has often gone too far in regulating private citizens and businesses."
While the GOP sought to limit damage from the civil rights flap, Paul, son of former Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas, caused tempers to flare again days later by defending the oil company blamed for the Gulf oil spill and telling a Russian TV station that babies of illegal immigrants shouldn't automatically receive U.S. citizenship.
The race is being closely watched nationally as Democrats seek to reclaim the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, a 78-year-old former major league pitcher known for gaffes of his own who opted not to seek a third term.
The campaign of Democratic nominee Jack Conway, Kentucky's attorney general, issued a statement late Monday saying Paul has "espoused out-of-the-mainstream views that would hurt Kentucky families" and has since been "spinning and backpedaling like a typical politician."
"He can't change the fact that he has stood up for BP and big corporations while Jack Conway is standing up for working families," said campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley.