News - Senate Candidates Paul and Conway meet with KFB directors
- July 23, 2010
A “Measure the Candidate Meeting” involving U.S. Senate candidates Rand Paul and Jack Conway attracted a wave of news media to the KFB state office.
Nearly 40 media representatives—including national outlets like the New York Times, Bloomberg, C-SPAN, GQ Magazine and the Associated Press Washington bureau—were on hand as the candidates discussed agriculture issues with the KFB Board of Directors.
The race to succeed the retiring Jim Bunning has become a national news story largely because of Paul’s ties with the “Tea Party” movement within the Republican Party. The political newcomer also has created a stir in agriculture circles by criticizing the farm subsidy program.
KFB Directors posed questions to the candidates relative to policy on the farm bill, international marketing, the environment, health care, energy and the federal budget. Paul and Conway also gave opening and closing statements.
The candidates did their homework on the organization’s policy and priority issues; both displayed good knowledge of both. For example, Paul was familiar with the controversy along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland over proposed federal conservation guidelines which would hinder farming in that area. Conway, meanwhile, was well informed about the disputes surrounding regulation of Confined Animal Feeding Operations.
The two also pointed to many facts and figures to support their positions. And both pledged to work closely with KFB.
Among highlights of the two-hour program:
*Paul was quick to refute reports that he wants to abolish the U.S. Department of Agriculture and farm subsidies. “I must clarify perceptions of my position,” he explained. He did say on several occasions that he feels the farm subsidy program needs reforms to eliminate “wasteful spending.”
*Conway said that contrary to reports, he opposes the so-called “cap-and-trade” legislation. “Let’s settle that once and for all – on the record,” he said during his comments on energy policy. (Ironically, later that day Congressional Democratic leaders announced that the issue was dead for this year’s session due to lack of support)
*Paul repeatedly said addressing the federal debt would be his top priority. “The biggest issue facing our country is the debt,” he said. “I fear that if we don’t act it will destroy the country; and then farm programs won’t matter.”
*Conway said he’s motivated for the campaign because “there’s as much anxiety and fear in Kentucky as I have seen in my lifetime.” He added: I want to be a Senator who always puts Kentucky first.”
In tandem with KFB policy, the candidates told the KFB Directors that they support free trade, an economic safety net within the farm bill, private property rights, a balanced budget and immigration reform that begins with securing our borders. Conway said, however, that his support for trade agreements would hinge on the trading partners’ meeting certain environmental and wage standards.
Health care, meanwhile, is a big divide: Paul described the health care reform act as “a disaster” while Conway said he would have voted for the measure because it expands coverage to those in need.