HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Republican Rand Paul continued his push Monday to make President Barack Obama the big issue in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, while Democrat Jack Conway criticized his tea-party backed opponent for his stands on civil rights and workplace safety.
Conway and Paul faced off Monday night in the second debate of their race to replace retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, in one of the mostly closely watched races in the nation.
Paul told some 600 people gathered in a Northern Kentucky University auditorium that he wants to reduce government spending, cut taxes and slash the size of a federal government that has forced businesses to move overseas.
"We tax them to death and we regulate them to death," Paul said. "We have the most business unfriendly administration we've ever had. This election will be about do you want someone who will support his president and his plans or do you want someone who will support the market place, support the individual ..."
Conway unleashed a barrage of criticisms in his opening statement, accusing Paul of wanting to slash federal spending for drug enforcement, favoring a larger Medicare deductible for seniors and opposing key provisions of the Civil Rights Act. He said Paul wants to distract voters from those issues by focusing on Obama.
"This election is not about President Obama," Conway said. "This election is about Jack Conway and Rand Paul."
The two, who had debated on FOX News just more than a week ago, have two more coming up in the next week.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon and first-time candidate, trounced his Republican primary opponent by calling for smaller government and a balanced budget. He is the son of Republican Texas Rep. Ron Paul who made a dark-horse presidential run in 2008.
Conway, the state's attorney general, also has tried to appeal to fiscal conservatives, saying he understands voters' frustration with rising federal spending.
That hasn't stopped Paul from trying to tie Conway to Obama in every campaign stop. Conway has acknowledged that he would have supported "some" of President Barack Obama's initiatives, including the health care overhaul.
However, Conway said he would have voted against a $700 billion bailout program for troubled financial institutions that was started under President George W. Bush, a Republican.