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U.S. Sen. Rand Paul plays word association game on political figures

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul mostly used short words and phrases in playing a word association game in a recent interview on Kentucky Educational Television but his answers said a lot.

Paul, being interviewed Sunday by Bill Goodman on KET’s “One to One” program, was asked what first came to his mind when he heard certain names.

Several of them turned out to be potential rivals in the 2016 race for president.

When asked about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Paul simply replied, “Bridges,” and chuckled.

That was a reference to the controversy in which former aides and appointees of Christie created a traffic jam on a bridge apparently for political retribution.

Paul also was ready to respond quickly with comments about former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“Yesterday’s news”) and President Barack Obama (“Affable but often ineffectual”).

The interview has drawn national media attention, getting write-ups in publications such as The Washington Post and Business Insider.

How beautiful is Rand Paul?

RandPaulFelonVotingBy Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, known for his unwieldy curls, has been named the ninth most beautiful person on Capitol Hill by The Hill newspaper.

Paul, 51, told The Hill about his sense of fashion, which he described as “unconventional or uncoordinated.” He said his wife, Kelley, would describe it as “none at all.”

“Typically, I come out in things, (and) I’m made to re-dress on occasion at home,” said the Bowling Green Republican who is considering a run for president in 2016.

The congressional newspaper and website has annually compiled a 50 Most Beautiful list for 10 years. The highly-subjective list covers members and employees of Congress, the White House, executive branch employees and members of the political press.

The Hill accepts nominations from its “loyal fans” to come up with the list. The list puts the “Top Ten” in order, but does not rank numerically the bottom forty.

Paul said he tries to stay fit by doing various outdoor activities — usually doing laps in his Endless Pool (sort of like “swimming on a treadmill,” he says,) golfing, picking up sticks to make a bonfire with his kids or tending to his lawn at home.

“I have to have time to mow my grass on the weekends. You’ll see me mowing if you come in my neighborhood,” he told The Hill.

Paul acknowledged he does not always keep a good diet and said he can’t avoid a post-Capitol pretzel binge.

“The worst thing I probably do is I go home, eat some chips, or eat some snacks,” he said. “I’m not the best after work. If I would just avoid that, I’d probably be better off.”

Rand Paul will speak at Fancy Farm picnic

Rand Paul spoke Oct. 23, 2013, in Morehead. Kentucky's junior senator made 15 stops at restaurants and small rallies in the state during the week. Photo by John Flavell.By Sam Youngman

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul will be among the politicians speaking at the annual Fancy Farm picnic this year in far Western Kentucky.

Paul, who is considering a presidential run in 2016, will speak at the event for the fourth time. The picnic — attended by thousands seeking barbeque pork, bingo and old-fashioned political speaking — will be held on the grounds of St. Jerome Catholic Church on Aug. 2.

“Sen. Paul is looking forward to being at Fancy Farm again and helping united Kentucky Republicans press for victory this fall,” said Dan Bayens, Paul’s spokesman.

Hillary Clinton says Rand Paul will be ‘fair game’

RandPaulFelonVotingBy Sam Youngman

Former Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Monday night that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul can bring up the affair President Bill Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky, but she warned that Paul will also be scrutinized if he runs for the White House.

In an interview with ABC News anchor Dianne Sawyer, Clinton was asked about Paul’s remarks this year about the former president’s affair. Paul has leaned into criticisms of the former first couple, accusing Bill Clinton of “predatory behavior.”

Sawyer noted in her interview with Clinton that Paul “said it’s fair game to talk about Monica Lewisnky, said it’s fair game to talk about how bosses treat people.”

“You know, he can talk about whatever he wants to talk about,” Clinton said. “And if he decides to run, he’ll be fair game too for everybody.”

At least one top Democratic operative seemed eager to get in on that game.

Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, tweeted Tuesday morning: “I’m even more excited for World Cup kickoff than I am thinking @SenRandPaul being the R ’16 nominee! Both are great!”

Political Paddock leftovers: McConnell and Bevin in the same room; Rand Paul talks marijuana

bevin_mcconnellBy Sam Youngman
Herald-Leader Political Writer

Some leftover notes from Saturday’s Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Louisville

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went off-script Saturday night when he praised Matt Bevin, the senator’s rival for the Republican nomination just a few weeks ago.

“We don’t own these seats,” McConnell said. “We don’t own the nomination, and we don’t own the general election. And none of us are above having competition and having to fight to represent our party in the general election.”

To that end, McConnell recognized and asked Bevin to stand, telling the crowd that the Louisville businessman who garnered 35 percent of the GOP vote in the May 20 primary “made me a better candidate going into November.”

Bevin stood as the crowd applauded, but after the dinner, as he stood at the end of a small receiving line in the corner of the emptying ballroom, Bevin was not in the mood to talk about McConnell, or anything else, with the Herald-Leader.

A small but steady stream of people lined up to thank Bevin for running, offer condolences or words of encouragement. One man told Bevin that he was “sorry what happened happened, but…,” trailing off as he pointed to the “Team Mitch” sticker on his chest.

“You got battles to fight, brother,” Bevin replied.

When Bevin was asked if he also had that battle to fight, or whether he might endorse McConnell, Bevin turned his back after responding: “I’m at a place where I’m talking to people.”

Rand Paul talks marijuana

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, in his remarks at the dinner, continued his call for reforming federal sentencing guidelines for drug-related crimes. Given the meager smattering of applause that greeted Paul when he changed the subject to criminal justice reform, the senator might have felt compelled to explain that he is no fan of marijuana use.

“I’m not saying any of this is good,” Paul said. “In fact, I think Colorado might have gone too far. I really think that drugs, even marijuana, they’re not benign drugs. They’re bad for our kids. People who use it all the time are wasting their lives, they’re never going to get ahead. But kids make mistakes.”

McConnell predicts Republican midterm ‘wave’

After being introduced at the dinner by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as “the next majority leader of the United States Senate,” McConnell offered his usual cheery assessment of Republican hopes for taking back the upper chamber.

“We’re going to have a good election this year, we just don’t know how good yet,” McConnell said. “There’s going to be a wave. It may be a little wave, a medium-sized wave or a tsunami.”

The senator closed his remarks with what sounded like a new campaign refrain: “On Nov. 4, Kentucky will lead the Senate.”

Former U.S. Sen. Santorum to CNN: Rand Paul’s ‘not my leader’

By Sam Youngman

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said on CNN’s “Crossfire” Monday night that Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is “not my leader.”

Santorum, who was one of the last remaining Republican presidential candidates in the field in 2012 after a narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses, was pressed by host and former Obama administration official Van Jones about whether Paul, a possible contender for the 2016 Republican nomination, is the leader of the party.

“Well, no, he’s not my leader,” Santorum said. “I can tell you that for sure. But his father and I had some disagreements during the last campaign.”

Jones pressed Santorum, saying “if a Libertarian like” Paul wins the nomination, would the former Pennsylvania senator vote for him.

“Well, I don’t think that will happen,” Santorum said. “Because the Republican Party is not a libertarian party. It is a conservative party. And it will nominate a conservative, not a libertarian.”

Political Paddock: Kentucky politicians made gorilla-sized gaffes at every turn this week

Sam YoungmanBy Sam Youngman
Herald-Leader Political Writer

Did you have a good week? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably not a Kentucky politician.

Gorilla-size gaffes over jobs, cockfighting, “secret club” meetings and slavery have haunted the candidates running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, plus U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

Spring fever has given way to spring screw-ups, and as the Bible says, there is none righteous. But the prize for the most self-inflicted damage goes to Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin.

Bevin claimed in early April that he didn’t know he had attended a pro-cockfighting rally in Corbin on March 29, telling The News Journal in Corbin that he thought the event was a rally for states’ rights. “I was the first person to speak and then I left,” Bevin said at the time.

Problem is, WAVE-TV in Louisville had a reporter with an undercover camera at the rally.

When asked directly at the event whether he would vote to legalize cockfighting in Kentucky, Bevin responded:

“I support the people of Kentucky exercising their right, because it is our right to decide what it is that we want to do, and not the federal government’s,” Bevin told the crowd. “Criminalizing behavior, if it’s part of the heritage of this state, is in my opinion a bad idea. A bad idea. I will not support it.”

McConnell’s campaign quickly issued a news release titled “Matt Bevin caught lying to Kentuckians.”

“Matt Bevin’s cockfighting episode will go down in history as one of the most disqualifying moments in Kentucky political history,” McConnell press secretary Allison Moore said.

For McConnell, this week produced a gaffe that, although not as cartoonishly devastating as Bevin’s, could leave a wound that the senator carries with him to November.

Rand Paul named one of Time’s 100 most influential

RandPaulFelonVotingBy Sam Youngman

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has been listed among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for the second year in a row.

In a short profile written by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul was described as “the libertarian champion.”

“Any political party worth its salt is always on the lookout for converts,” wrote Kentucky’s senior senator. “But no one in either party today brings the level of missionary zeal to the task that Rand Paul does. From Berkeley, Calif., to Detroit, my Kentucky colleague has been cheerfully clearing a path for Republican ideals in the unlikeliest precincts.”

McConnell wrote that the “real secret” to Paul’s rise is his authenticity, which is “obvious to anyone who has seen him come out of a D.C. television studio in Ray-Bans and shorts, or hold the Senate floor for half a day to get answers from an imperious White House.”

“Spend five minutes with Rand and it’s clear he doesn’t care what you look like or where you’re from,” McConnell said. “He’s beating the bushes for anyone who prizes liberty, and he’s forcing people to rethink the Republican Party. He’s showing them we’re as serious about the Bill of Rights today as we were in 1860, when another Kentucky Republican built our party’s first great coalition. He’s having fun too. And that’s contagious.”

Among others included in the “leaders” part of the list were Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, profiled by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Secretary of State John Kerry, profiled by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and President Barack Obama, profiled by Time’s Joe Klein.

Senate committee approves bill to let Rand Paul run for re-election and president in 2016

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-GeorgetownUPDATED AT 2:15 P.M.

By Sam Youngman

A revised bill that would allow U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to run for re-election and the presidency on the same Kentucky ballot in 2016 cleared a state Senate committee Wednesday, picking up one Democratic vote along the way.

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, joined Republicans on the Senate State and Local Government Committee in voting to send the proposal to the full Senate after it was changed to specify that the bill only applies to candidates running for president or vice president of the United States.

State law now says no candidate can appear on the same ballot twice in a general election. Primary elections appear to be excluded from the current law.

“What this simply does is clarifies that when you have a candidate in the federal delegation who is either seeking the presidency or is chosen to run for the vice presidential seat, that person can also run at the same time for their seat in the United States Senate or the United States Congress,” said Sen. Damon Thayer of his revised bill.

Political Paddock: Rand Paul is on a roll

Sam YoungmanBy Sam Youngman
Herald-Leader Political Writer

In late February, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul played golf with Donald Trump at Trump’s course in Palm Beach. Trump shot par and walked away with the win.

That’s about the only thing that hasn’t gone Paul’s way in 2014 as he continues to eye a run for the White House in 2016.

More than a year removed from the 13-hour filibuster that sent his star rising and less than a year before Paul could announce that he is running for president, Kentucky’s junior senator is winning over skeptics daily.

What once seemed like a parlor game punchline is growing more realistic by the day: Rand Paul could very well win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

The road map Paul and his team put together — growing his brand outside of Tea Party voters, making inroads with establishment Republican donors, and wooing millennials — appears to be on track.

Black leaders are increasingly inviting Paul to speak and listen to their constituents, top donors are sitting down for lunch with the Tea Party darling — nearly matching what Paul is raising from his strong base of small-dollar donors — and a couple thousand millennials made sure Paul walked away from last weekend’s CPAC convention with his second straight straw-poll win.