In Kentucky, Democratic candidate Jack Conway is making some big gains in the polls and catching up to his Republican counterpart Rand Paul, thankfully. He joined Hardball where Chris Matthews did another one of his bullying interviews and talked
September 28, 2010

In Kentucky, Democratic candidate Jack Conway is making some big gains in the polls and catching up to his Republican counterpart Rand Paul, thankfully. He joined Hardball where Chris Matthews did another one of his bullying interviews and talked over him and treated him like he was some sort of hostile witness on the stand in court. I don't know what causes Matthews to act like this other than maybe he gets some sort of thrill out of the fact that he can.

Matthews continually tried to force Conway to make personal statements about Rand Paul and others knowing full well that most politicians don't want to do that because it makes you look petty. Anyway, it's horribly annoying when Matthews constantly interrupts someone the way he did here when they're trying to answer his questions and Jack Conway managed to handle it well enough and keep his cool during the interview. If you want to support him for Senate go visit out Act Blue page and make a contribution.

Full transcript to follow.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, the latest Kentucky poll shows a tight Senate race between Republican Rand Paul, the Tea Partier, and Democrat Jack Conway, who is the attorney general of the state. Paul leads 49-47, which is nothing practically, in the new Survey USA poll. It`s a robo-poll.

But we`re joined now by the man himself, Jack Conway, attorney general of Kentucky.

General, thank you for joining us.

I have got a couple points. You have been hitting this guy, Rand Paul, on a couple issues I think are serious business. Is he getting money from racists? hand should he send it back?

JACK CONWAY: Well, good evening to you, Chris.

And we -- we called on him a few days ago to return contributions that he received from white separatists. It`s just too painful an issue for him not to return the contributions. And I think if you`re in public life, you ought to take a look at those who are contributing to you.

And it calls to mind the fact that Rand Paul has had to dismiss some staffers because of some comments they have made online. Everyone seems to remember the 20 painful minutes he had on this very network where he rejected fundamental provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

So, I think it`s on Rand Paul to make certain that he would return contributions from people who have associations with white separatist organizations.

MATTHEWS: Does he have a personal problem in that regard, civil rights, personal problem?

CONWAY: I don`t know. I have to let others judge Rand Paul. It just seems to me that --


MATTHEWS: Well, you`re running against him. Let me judge it. You have to judge him. Do you think he has got a problem or not? Because you`re running on this issue.


MATTHEWS: Is it an issue about his personal character, or what?

CONWAY: Well, I think it`s an issue, he just doesn't get Kentucky. He doesn't get our values.

If you take money from white separatists, that`s not acceptable. He seems to have a world view that government should never touch business in any way whatsoever. And, as attorney general, I`m all about accountability. I think we need more accountability, not less of it.

And so I think Rand Paul has to be accountable on this particular score. And I don`t think it does us any good in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to have a candidate like Rand Paul who takes this kind of money and then also says he`s against the Americans With Disabilities Act and other issues like that.


Would you feel -- would you have a bad conscience if you took money from racists?


MATTHEWS: Why doesn't he? I`m asking you to ask him. Does he have - - should he have a bad conscience from taking money from racists?

CONWAY: Yes, he should. And he should return it.

MATTHEWS: So, it's a character issue.

Let me ask you about this drug use. I know he`s a libertarian, and all of us have talked about this since we grow up, especially people of my generation. Should there be certain drugs that we don`t consider criminal violations? We don`t really use the full force of the law against people. Some people have this view about marijuana use.

What is his position, as you understand it on drug use? Apparently, he has a somewhat libertarian view on that subject, which you, I think, are arguing is not a Kentucky view.

CONWAY: Exactly. He seems to think that all drug issue should be left to the local level and it`s up to the states to decide what they criminalize and don`t criminalize. But in Kentucky, we have a peculiar problem with prescription pills being used for off-label purposes. It`s an epidemic with OxyContin and hydrocodone and other drugs in eastern Kentucky.

And, in fact, Harold Rogers, a Republican, has brought in a lot of federal money to try to combat the issue, which I support. But Rand Paul has stood up and said the drugs aren't a pressing issue and he doesn't want any federal report for treatment or for interdiction. It`s not about being tough on drugs -- I mean, as attorney general, I think we should treat criminals like criminals, but it`s about being smart on it. And this isn`t -- this isn't an issue that Kentucky can tackle alone.

MATTHEWS: You`re attorney general. Should people be arrested for smoking marijuana in Kentucky?

CONWAY: I think so. Absolutely. It`s against the law.

MATTHEWS: And should they be put in prison?

CONWAY: Well, you know, a first-time offense with small amount, I think we can incarcerate people for more serious offenses. I mean, first time, non-violent drug offenses, I think we have to look at treatment and we have to look at education and other options. We can`t just incarcerate our way out of this problem.

But, as attorney general, I will enforce the drug laws.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask about this election. It seems like you've got a real shot in the next month. I want you to talk to voters out there. We've had a big fight, I hear it all over my network about where people on the what you called progressive left activists, Netrooters, people like that who pay attention to programs like this, they may be a small minority, but they make a lot of noise.

My question to you is: Should they be angry at President Obama or should they be thrilled that they`re lucky to live in a time we have a progressive president when most Americans hardly can remember a progressive president back to Roosevelt?

CONWAY: Well --

MATTHEWS: I`m serious. Who`s the last progressive president?

CONWAY: Well, on some things, Bill Clinton was progressive. On others, he was moderate. And on others, he can be conservative. So, I kind of eschew labels.

MATTHEWS: But he was -- he was a moderate. He was a moderate Democrats.


MATTHEWS: And that`s why he was successful.


MATTHEWS: But with this president, I think is a progressive. So, why the progressives mad at him?

CONWAY: I don`t know. I think they expected too much too early. And, obviously, this president is trying to deliver on a number of key initiatives. And, obviously, governing is tougher sometimes than campaigning.

But what`s happening in Kentucky is we`re surging because, you know, we`re putting Kentucky first and we`re talking about issues that are important to Kentuckians. And the rationale for Rand Paul`s candidacy --


CONWAY: -- is falling apart. He`s talked about term limits but he won`t apply `em to himself. You know, he has talked about -- I've taken -- Chris, I've taken a whole lot of hits from Karl Rove`s American Crossroads and all these special interest groups.

MATTHEWS: I know. He`s after you.

CONWAY: He`s after me and I hope some of your views would go to and help us out.

But we've learned here recently that Rand Paul is now calling for $2,000 deductible for every recipient of Medicare. He`s not going to win this health care argument by putting forward positions like that. So, the rationale for his candidacy is beginning to collapse.

MATTHEWS: Do you think Karl Rove is a negative influence on American life?

CONWAY: I do. I do. As someone who`s taking about $1 million worth of special interest money that is coming, 91 percent of it, coming, I think, from three billionaires and coming in and running ads in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, claiming that I have cut half a trillion dollars --

MATTHEWS: OK. I got a tough one for you. I got a tough one for you. And I don`t know where you`re going to stand on this.

We got reports -- I got reports over the weekend that your senior senator, Mitch McConnell, has been personally holding up issuing subpoenas to the oil company, BP in particular, for its role in the BP disaster. They -- Mitch McConnell does not believe in a serious investigation of BP.

Is he in the tank with BP? I can`t think of another reason why he doesn`t want a serious investigation of an environmental catastrophe. Your thoughts.

CONWAY: Well, I can`t -- I can`t think of another reason, either. I mean, I believe in accountability. And I`m in --

MATTHEWS: Is he in the tank with the oil industry?

CONWAY: It seems --

MATTHEWS: Is he in the tank with the oil industry?

CONWAY: Well, it seems like he is, because I`ll tell you what, Chris, it seems like he`s fighting and he`s to push this on past the elections and not allow Bob Graham and his committee, which has to report in July, not allowing them to have subpoena power. They ought to have subpoena power to get at the bottom of what happened and make certain it never happens again.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s one good reason for you to get elected right there.

Thank you, Jack Conway.

CONWAY: Thank you, Chris.

Can you help us out?

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