Candidates get vicious at U.S. Senate debate

Louisville, KY - By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The fight for the U.S. Senate is turning ugly. After a debate at the University of Louisville, Republican Rand Paul refused to shake hands with Democratic challenger Jack Conway for a TV attack ad questioning Paul's faith. At the debate Paul said his opponent has "descended into the gutter."

"Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible a hoax that was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ?" asked the narrator in an ad against Paul.

In their first meeting after the ad aired, Paul didn't waste any time and demanded an apology in his opening statements.

"You know, Jack, you know how we tell you're lying?" asked Paul on stage. "It's when your lips are moving, OK? You're accusing me of crimes. Do you know nothing about the process? You're going to stand over there and accuse me of a crime from 30 years ago from some anonymous source? How ridiculous are you? You embarrass this race."

The ad is based on published reports from an anonymous woman who claims Paul tied her up in college and told her to pray to Aqua Buddha.

"Why did he join a group that was known for mocking Christianity and Christ?" asked Conway. "Why did he join it? It's apparent from Mr. Green in today's paper that he reveled in sacrilege. And values matter."

Paul responded, looking at Conway and the crowd.

"How do you respond to a guy who's going to quote somebody anonymously from 30 years ago that's untrue?" asked Paul. "You just out and out lie because you have nothing to stand on. Run a race as a man. Stand up and be a man instead of just calling me names."

Afterwards Paul refused to shake Conway's hand and walked off the stage.

"As he went by I said it's your decision not to shake and I turned to him and he walked right by," said Conway about the Paul declining a handshake as he walked out.

"We got to the issues, but I'd just rather him change the tenor of the debate," Paul as he walked to his car after the debate. "He needs to grow up."

Just minutes after the debate ended, the Paul campaign responded with an ad of its own.

"What kind of shameful politician would sink this low?" asked the narrator in Paul's ad. "To bear false witness against another man, just to win an election? This one would: Jack Conway."

The latest Rasmussen Poll has Paul leading by double digits with a little more than two weeks to go.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.