In what is shaping up to be one of the dirtiest and muddiest campaigns of the season, the latest accusation to fly about Dr. Rand Paul in his run for the Senate in Kentucky is an unusual one. After some pathetically humorous stories about his college shenanigans were dragged out and failed to do any harm, Democrat Jack Conway accused Dr. Paul of not being sufficiently supportive of the War on Drugs.
A report from the Associated Press helped to muddy the waters substantially with a non-quote apparently summarized from an interview which suggested that Paul “said he is opposed to the legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes.”
In a development which was atypical when dealing with a Republican candidate, the reaction among Dr. Paul’s strongest supporters to this revelation was very negative, with accusations of hypocrisy and selling out flying around the blogosphere. Unlike many more traditional Republicans, Paul has a strong following with libertarian-leaning activists in the Tea Party movement and groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus and they were rather shocked to hear that he had turned against their preference for calling off the drug war, marijuana legalization and and end to the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.
To his credit, after lambasting Paul on the drug issue, blogger Mike Meno had the good sense to contact the campaign and get a clarification on the issue. As it turns out, the AP report, which seems rather slanted towards Paul’s opponent, misrepresented Paul’s position substantially.
While Rand Paul doesn’t necessarily favor legalization of marijuana or other drugs on a personal level, he believes that it is an issue in which the federal government should have no role. He supports letting states decide for themselves how they will deal with drugs and drug users, and ending the federal War on Drugs which has become notorious for its cost, ineffectiveness and civil rights abuses.
While some may see the states rights stance as a way for him to avoid really dealing with the issue, it remains a strong departure from the drug prohibition rhetoric favored by most politicians in both parties. It may give his opponent some ammunition to use against him in a state with more than its share of drug problems, but it’s reassuring for Paul’s civil libertarian supporters who have raised millions of dollars for his campaign form all over the nation.
Conway may have scored a small hit with this issue, cutting Paul’s lead in many polls by a couple of points and pulling even with him in one poll for the first time since the primaries. Paul still leads by at least 5 points on average. The question is whether it was Paul’s real position or the AP misrepresentation which showed in the poll drop and what effect it will have on his major fundraising MoneyBomb which launched today.Powered by Sidelines