Sen. Paul covers lots of ground

ERIC WALKER/The Mayfield Messenger

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke to a group of local leaders Tuesday at the Purchase Area Development District on various subjects, ranging from current low unemployment numbers and workforce development, trade matters and the current presidential impeachment inquiry.

The matter of presidential impeachment found its way into U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's community forum Tuesday at the Purchase Area Development District.

Following opening remarks from the Kentucky senator, questions from local leaders on hand touched on international trade, employment and job growth, and the impeachment inquiry launched by the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives.

In regards to President Donald Trump's July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that kick started the congressional inquiry, Sen. Paul said both sides of the aisle - Democrat and Republican - have threatened Ukrainian military aid and threatened investigations. But he doubts the public will buy into impeaching Trump.

"I think the public is going to say, 'Are we going to impeach the president for something that it appears both sides are doing?'" Paul said. "I don't think it's going to go anywhere. I think it's going to be perceived by the public as a very partisan thing."

Paul said he didn't see impeachment proceedings going beyond a yes vote in the House and then the Republican majority voting against it in the Senate. But all in all, he said, it is a distraction to the country.

"I think these things will be better served in the election," he told reporters after the forum. "I think we should just go through an election instead of impeaching the other side every time the presidency changes hands and distracts us from things that are important for the country."

That includes international trade issues, which have been felt by U.S. farmers. Paul said he has talked to grain and soybean farmers who want to re-establish a deal with nations like China. He added that current trade matters have also impacted other areas of Kentucky industry, such as with bourbon distillers and auto manufacturers.

"They want to get to a point where we can begin trading again. But they also understand that China cheats and we want China to behave better, but they do want an agreement," he said.

"Let's not think we can let this thing go on, year after year and keep getting worse," he said. "Ultimately, instead of ratcheting it up, I'd like to see an offer where we say, 'Well, we'll lower this if you'll lower that,' so it's going in the right direction."

What he said is going in the right direction is low unemployment. Paul said while visiting Russellville, Princeton and Hopkinsville earlier in the day, he has heard from business owners having difficulty filling vacant positions.

"That's a good problem to have," he said.

To tackle this, Paul said business and industry are communicating directly with high schools and community and technical colleges about how to fill those worker needs.

"They want to make sure there's enough workers who have the proper education," he said. "They're actually going to our high schools and our community colleges and our technical colleges and saying we need our students to know this and this and they're actually working on the curriculum to make sure students are better prepared when they come out."

Paul, an ophthalmologist, will spend time in Paducah this week performing eye surgeries and exams.

Eric Walker is the news editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.