Candidate for US Senate Dr. Rand Paul showed up at the Cayce United Methodist Church BBQ Picnic not to make a speech or raise campaign money, but to meet regular people. And meet regular people he did.
Cayce United Methodist Church is a tiny congregation, between 40 and 60 attending, according to new minister Dennis Bowling. The congregation has been hosting a big picnic on the lawn every year. Families come from Fulton and surrounding counties to greet old friends and eat the ubiquitous West Kentucky barbecue,(mutton or pork,) cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and what looked like forty kinds of dessert.
Standing beside the dinner line, Paul kept one eye on the media, taking questions. The other eye watched folks moving slowly past. Paul kept reaching past reporters to stick his hand out and say over and over, “Hi, I’m Rand Paul. I’m running for Jim Bunning’s seat.”
Some in line allowed that they were Democrats and were supporting the other guy. Some enthusiastically engaged Paul. All were polite. This was, after all, a church picnic and visitors are to be treated politely.
When asked by a reporter how he found a picnic in Cayce, Paul joked he couldn’t reveal confidential sources. He went on to say a Paducah volunteer has kinfolk in Cayce invited him. Paul drove over from Bowling Green specifically for the event and was driving back when it was over.
Bill Bartleman of the Paducah Sun pressed Paul on his stance on federal farm subsidies. Paul said that every aspect of federal spending has to be on the table. He said that farmers are taxpayers too and they recognize the deficit is a huge problem. He went on to explain that Western Kentuckians are conservative and will support his candidacy. Bartleman wondered aloud if Paul losing farmers’ support because of his stance on subsidies wouldn’t counter his conservative support. Paul said that only a small percentage of farmers get the subsidy.
Paul told reporters his strategy is to win “Eastern Kentucky, Northern Kentucky and Western Kentucky big and draw even in the two major cities.” He toldthe press that he had won big in Western Kentucky in the May primary. Bartleman reminded him Republicans are thin on the ground in the region. Paul was undeterred. He believes that his pro life, pro gun, pro business philosophy is more in tune with voters.
When asked if Senator Bunning would campaign for him, Paul said the outgoing Senator had already appeared for him in Northern Kentucky, Bunning’s home area. He said that Senator McConnell and Secretary of State Trey Grayson (whom Paul defeated in the primary) had also campaigned for him.
When asked to compare his situation with his defeated rival to his opponent and his defeated rival (Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo), Paul said he would let the press draw comparisons. Then he grinned and said that he was enjoying Conway’s discomfort.
With the Fancy Farm Picnic coming up August 7th, Paul was asked if he is preparing for the event. He said that he has started thinking about it. He may write out his speech this year. Fancy Farm ‘09 was Paul’s first experience on the podium with candidates and elected officials of all grades. He said he noticed that he was the only one with no written remarks. He may use notes this year.
WKJPI reported after last year’s speech that Paul’s speech, coming toward the end of the day stood out. See Best Speech of the Day . Paul was booed by both Republicans and Democrats at Fancy Farm 2009. When reminded of that day, Paul said that if he disagrees with the Democrats, he will vote against them. If he disagrees with the Republicans, he’ll vote against them. Getting booed by both parties reinforces his Tea Party outsider credentials.
Paul said he will be back in Western Kentucky often. Coming to Cayce, Kentucky on a hot July night to meet hundreds of Fulton Countians and their friends from around the region who believe that Frankfort and Washington had forgotten them, was a good start.