Democrat Jack Conway (pictured below left with his wife, Elizabeth, and Gov. Steve Beshear) won the coin toss and spoke first. He quickly went on the attack, telling the crowd that Paul, a member of the tea party movement, wants to cut most government programs to the point of putting schoolchildren, farmers, the disabled and others at risk–but changes his position when challenged.
“This is an important election, it’s not about me, it’s not about a waffling pessimist who just wants to be the prince of cable TV. It’s about the people of Kentucky,” he said.
Paul (pictured above right between his wife, Kelley, and Sen. Mitch McConnell) fired back, accusing Conway of running away from Democrats in Washington when it’s expedient in Kentucky.
The speeches were broadcast statewide on Kentucky Educational Television and nationally on C-SPAN.
Shortly after speaking, Paul and most other Republicans left the stage and quickly departed the picnic grounds before reporters could question them. Jack Conway and the Democrats stuck around until the speaking ended.
“That’s happened almost every year that I’ve been here. And Gov. Beshear and Greg Stumbo and Paul Patton all make a point of, let’s stay up here and let’s stay behind our candidates. And I was staying up there for my party,” Conway said.
Last year, both Conway and Rand Paul ran long and had their speeches cut short by the master of ceremonies. This year, both men finished right on time and avoided being drowned out by a bluegrass band.
(Information for this story was also provided WFPL’s Rick Howlett. Photos by Tony McVeigh, Kentucky Public Radio. Special thanks to Kentucky Educational Television)