U.S. Sen. Rand Paul formally helped kick off U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield’s campaign for re-election with a meet-and-greet and town hall style meeting with voters in Murray Jan. 11.
The two Republicans addressed a packed Murray Room in the CFSB Center first to introduce Whitfield’s bid for re-election in the morning, and then later with the town hall meeting featuring only Paul.
Whitfield, a Hopkinsville, Ky., native who was elected to Congress in 1994, has served the 1st Congressional District for eight terms. His visit to Murray in the heart of his district marks the start of a tour through western Kentucky.
In a short address, Whitfield called on his moderate base for a strong re-election. He said the country’s financial stability was of the utmost priority in his mind and that job creation would take precedence in the two-year term seat.
“Our first priority must be to put Americans back to work,” he said.
The congressman restated his dedication to renewable energy searches that include a partial emphasis on Kentucky coal. Paul spoke after Whitfield. He thanked him for what he called dedicated service to Kentucky and pledged to back the incumbent congressman’s nine-month campaign.
In the second part of the day’s events, Paul made a second appearance after meeting with local Republican leaders later in the morning.
A large number of supporters and media representatives turned out for the event hosted by the Murray Chamber of Commerce, though Whitfield was absent as he had other campaign stops to make through the day.
He said the enormity of the U.S. deficit had become an issue far too important to be ignored by he and other members of Congress.
Paul started the meeting with a short stump speech in which he told voters he understood their frustration with congress and shared their thoughts. But he said he had been elected for the purpose of changing fraudulent government spending and limiting the large federal government.
He said the enormity of the U.S. deficit had become an issue too important to be ignored by Congress.
“There are problems,” Paul said. “The debt has repercussions. There are only six countries in the world whose debt equals their (Gross Domestic Product), and we’re one of them. We shouldn’t be proud of this.”
But Paul said as soon as he was elected to the Senate in 2010 to replace retired Republican Jim Bunning, he encountered heavy across-the-aisle opposition. He was a leading figure in that year’s national Tea Party movement, which propelled a constitutional conservative message.
“I have spoken with the president,” he said. “I rode on Air Force One with him and I met him at the White House; I will work with the other side.”
With that, Paul warned the federal government required what many Democrats have called “radical” changes.
He mentioned such political conversions as limiting foreign aid, increasing the minimum age for Social Security benefits and reversing the country’s $15 trillion debt.
“We’ve got to fix these problems,” he said. “Would that be enough to balance the budget? No. That’s scratching the surface. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.”
Paul ended his speech by taking questions from several attendees. One question came from Marshall County Judge-Executive Mike Miller.
Miller asked Paul to support the completion of the lock expansion at the Kentucky Dam.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers, responsible for building the $844 million expansion, ran into problems earlier this month when a trust fund paid for through barge tax and federal funds no longer had enough money to continue development.