"No, Anderson, I am not attacking his religion.”
Not once. Not twice. But three times. Jack Conway repeated that sentence into empty air for those of us standing around watching his side of the conversation with Anderson Cooper of CNN News.
Conway’s ad questioning the wisdom of Rand Paul in college that has been running for the past week has created a media firestorm. National pundits are fixated on the notion that Conway is attacking Paul’s religious beliefs.
The story of Rand Paul and the fraternity he joined while he was a student at Baylor University in Texas first ran in GQ Magazine on August 9th. We linked to the story on August 10th. GQ reported that Paul was involved in a “kidnapping” of a college coed, taking her to a pond and exhorting her to worship Aqua Buddha. When she demurred, she was turned loose. The incident was never reported, but the woman didn’t have any further contact with Paul and she still conceals her identity.
Conway can quote which magazines and news outlets have covered the story and he contends that the allegations in the ad are true.
Paul is, unsurprisingly, furious. He walked off the stage in Louisville without the customary handshake post forum. He accuses Conway of disparaging his religion and attacking his family.
Conway got a chance to answer Paul’s claims on Tuesday night in Mayfield during an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN. The news network sent an independent film crew from St. Louis to hook Conway up for the ten minute interview.
During the interview, Conway said that Paul had not denied the charges and while he was not attacking Paul’s religion, he was attacking his judgment and his values.
“Values matter.” He told Cooper. He said that mocking religion is not acceptable at any age. Conway made the argument that Paul’s opposition to faith based initiatives are in direct line with his student writing while at Baylor.
Conway managed, by dint of some very fast talking, to repeat for the CNN audience the issues he says Paul espouses: the Medicare deductible, his lack of support for the Americans with Disabilities Act and equal rights for women.
Smiling often and delivering his lines from his marks on the floor of a Mayfield community center, Conway stood his ground with one of the most experienced interviewers in America.
Whether the interview was a win from Anderson’s view or not, no one in Mayfield could tell, but it was definitely a hit in Graves County, Kentucky.