To kick off Sunday's Kentucky Senate debate, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace offered Rand Paul and Jack Conway a chance to comment on one another. Wallace noted that Republican nominee Paul has rarely mentioned his opponent on the trail.
But that simple statement elicited a biting reply from tea party candidate Paul, who quickly set the tone for the next 30 minutes of verbal attacks.
"We're waiting for him to catch up a little bit in the polls and then we may refer to him more," Paul uttered, as Conway, sitting inches away from his opponent, laughed uncomfortably and cleared his throat.
The tension was visible throughout Sunday's debate as ophthalmologist Paul accused his Democratic opponent, the state attorney general, of flip-flopping on cap-and-trade, supporting "failed" Obama administration policies and misrepresenting his stance on taxes. And Conway gave it right back, hitting out at Paul for being extreme and failing to offer specific ideas and solutions.
"He's out of touch with the values of mainstream Kentuckians... I'm not saying Dr. Paul's crazy, I'm saying some of his ideas are out of the mainstream and they're out of touch with the values of normal Kentuckians," Conway said, citing Paul's past statements appearing to oppose the Americans with Disabilities Act, Medicare, and downplaying the state's drug problems.
Paul said later in Sunday's debate that he was misquoted when he suggested that drug abuse in Kentucky is not a "pressing issue."
"I'm always concerned about drug abuse... I don't think people are as concerned about where the money comes from," Paul said. He then turned the question around on his opponent.
"Under his watch, the meth labs have doubled in the state... they're worse since you became attorney general," Paul said.
Paul stuck to his anti-spending fiscal platform throughout much of Sunday's debate, and slammed Democrats' support for the stimulus. "Jack acts like the money's from free -- just go and get it from Santa Claus in Washington," Paul said. "I think that amount of debt is threatening the very foundations of our country... it's incredibly dangerous."
Though Conway continues to trail Paul in recent polling, Conway has moved closer to his opponent in recent weeks, making this one of the top races in the country.
(Photo: AP/Patti Longmire)