Rand Paul Criticises Charles Booker for Visiting Flood-ravaged Eastern Kentucky!
Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Charles Booker, his Democratic opponent this fall in Kentucky, traded shots at each other Monday involving each other’s response to the deadly flooding that devastated several Appalachian counties last week.
Booker drove a truck full of water and supplies to an emergency shelter at Letcher County Central High School in flood-damaged Whitesburg on Saturday. His campaign office in Louisville is now full of more supplies that will be sent to Whitesburg soon after his call for donations.
But when a reporter at his press conference on Monday in Louisville asked him if he thought he was doing enough for the flood victims and if he liked how it looked that his opponent was helping out on the ground, Paul said that politicians should stay out of the way.
“I think most people think that the people who should be doing the responding are the professionals,” Paul said. “You know, politicians out there having their picture taken probably isn’t that useful.”
Paul added that what flood victims need are “monetary donations, as opposed to goods,” saying that much of the goods collected for the Western Kentucky tornado victims in December “still sits in warehouses, and they’re still trying to find somebody that could make use of it.”
“I just don’t like seeing politicians in front of a camera while rescuers are trying to get people out of the rubble and save their lives.”
Paul said he would eventually visit the area and work with “the governor and the other elected officials to make sure that disaster relief is there for them. But in the immediate aftermath, we really would need to save lives.”
Later on Monday, Booker responded to Paul’s comments by saying that the senator’s “pitiful response” shows that he doesn’t care about the people of Kentucky.
Booker said, “He talks like he hasn’t been on the ground because if he saw what I saw, he’d know that everyone needs to help.” “If he would just listen to the people on the ground, he would hear that they want supplies to help with cleanup, hot meals, and getting rid of the debris. They want help finding people they care about.”
Since his campaign office gave a truck full of supplies to the emergency shelter in Whitesburg on Saturday, he “has gotten a huge number of donations and supplies for the areas that were hit. We’ll work with organizers on the ground to get them to the people who need them.”
Booker sent out a tweet Monday afternoon with a video of himself walking through his campaign office, which was full of donated water, diapers, and other items. He wrote: “This is what it looks like to stand together. This is what it’s all about in Kentucky!”
“We made our campaign office a place where people could drop off donations for flood relief, and this is what you did. I’m grateful. Let’s keep going.”
Booker isn’t the only politician from outside the area who has gone there to help after the flooding. On Monday, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron posted pictures of himself meeting with people in the area.
“Today, I visited local shelters in Breathitt and Knott Counties to deliver essential supplies to Kentuckians who have been impacted by the severe flooding in eastern Kentucky,” Cameron wrote on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. “It was an honor to spend time with such generous and resilient Kentuckians.”
Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who is running for governor next year like Cameron, also posted videos and photos on Sunday of himself “delivering water, food, and toiletries to devastated areas of Eastern Kentucky, such as Manchester and Hazard.” He also asked people to bring more supplies to his Frankfort office.
Gov. Andy Beshear saw the damage from flooding from a National Guard helicopter on Friday. On Sunday, he went to Perry, Knott, and Letcher counties to see the damage for himself. On Tuesday, he went to emergency shelters in Floyd, Breathitt, and Pike counties.
The governor, who has been in charge of the emergency response, set up a website where people can give money to help with flood relief. He also stressed the need for donations of water and cleaning supplies for the areas that were destroyed.
In his statement to The Courier-Journal, Booker also said that when he heard about the flooding, “I didn’t answer as a politician would. I answered like a native of Kentucky, and Paul should have done the same.”
Angie Hatton, a Democrat from Whitesburg and a state representative, told The Courier-Journal that she was thankful that Booker had given money to the shelter in her city.
Hatton said, “I’ve known Charles for years, ever since we worked together in the Kentucky House. I wasn’t surprised at all that he came here to help.” “He knows I would do the same thing if the roles were switched.”
Hatton went on to say “We don’t have the time or the desire to make politics about the worst natural disaster that has ever happened in my part of the state. On the contrary, we are very grateful to everyone who has given time, money, or supplies to help because the need is so great.”
“With that in mind, I know Sen. Paul has access to many resources, and we would be glad to work with him in any capacity. I’ll accept help — and hugs — from anyone willing to help my people.”