By Sam Youngman
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has stepped up his blistering criticism of Bill Clinton, saying Democrats who take money from the former president should either return it or not “take a position on women’s rights.”
Paul’s comments, set to air Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” come as likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Friday that Clinton will campaign in Kentucky on her behalf later this month.
Paul, in the C-SPAN interview, said Democrats “can’t have it both ways.”
“The Democrats can’t say ‘Oh we’re the great defenders of women’s rights in the workplace, and we will defend you against some kind of abusive boss that uses their position of authority to take advantage of a young woman’ when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country, is Bill Clinton, who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment,” Paul said.
Grimes, who has made the Republican “war on women” central to her campaign so far, said Friday that Clinton will campaign with her in Louisville on Feb. 25. She said Clinton has indicated he wants to make the Kentucky Senate race his top priority this year.
Clinton is the last Democrat to carry Kentucky in a presidential election.
Paul’s latest comments about Clinton came in response to a question from host Steve Scully about an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” where Paul made waves by accusing Clinton of “predatory behavior.”
In the C-SPAN interview, Paul said any Democrat “who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do.”
“In fact, I think they should give the money back,” Paul said. “If they want to take a position on women’s rights, by all means do, but you can’t do it and take it from a guy who was using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace.”
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) responded by blasting Paul’s voting record on bills such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
“If his claims of concern for women are sincere he should start by rethinking his opposition to the Violence Against Women’s Act, paycheck fairness and the right of women to make their own health care decisions,” DNC spokeswoman Lily Adams said.
In the wide-ranging 30-minute interview, Paul also reiterated his support for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and predicted that President Barack Obama’s health care law will help Republicans win the 2014 midterm elections.
Scully noted that Paul’s beliefs line up with Louisville businessman and GOP challenger Matt Bevin.
“Yeah, and if you look at the voting record of Sen. McConnell, you’ll find that he’s pretty conservative as well,” Paul said. “The thing is is that everybody has to make their own decision. I’ve tried to say to Republican voters in Kentucky, ‘You guys will decide. I’ve made my position. I am supporting Sen. McConnell. I think he’s helped to corral all Republicans together to be steadfast in our opposition to probably the worst piece of legislation of the last several decades, which is Obamacare.”
The senator predicted that Republicans would win this November after Americans start to see increases in insurance premiums in late summer.
“Right now, the disaster that is Obamacare gets worse with each week,” Paul said. “I think by summertime, the Democrats will be begging us to fix it unless President Obama appoints himself, you know, king and just keeps doing whatever he wants to change it.”
Paul predicted that by late summer, insurance companies “will be going to their regulators at the state level, and they’re going to be having to ask for increases in premiums.”
“Already those of us who have bought insurance though Obamacare have gotten sticker shock,” Paul said. “Wait until next summer when they find out that really the model’s not working.”
The senator accused Obama of “trying to delay that realization until after the election,” but he said it will be apparent to voters later this year that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
“There’s going to be a lot of unhappiness and already is, and it’s going to change the election,” Paul said.
As for his 2016 presidential ambitions, Paul said he is still discussing the matter with his family, and that a decision won’t come until “at least until after the 2014 elections, but really it’s going to be a little while.”
Scully also asked Paul about the Kentucky state law that prohibits candidates from appearing on the ballot twice and could prevent Paul from seeking both his Senate seat and the presidency.
“That’s debatable,” Paul said. “And there are some laws in our state that we’re looking at, but we’ll know more and you’ll be the first to know when we come to a conclusion.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.