Paul at rally in state House Speaker David Osborne’s barn (Lexington Herald-Leader photo by Austin Horn)
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, seeking a third six-year term, “promised Saturday to wage a vigorous review into the origins of the coronavirus if Republicans retake the Senate and he lands a committee chairmanship,” reports Bruce Schreiner of The Associated Press.
“When we take over in November, I will be chairman of a committee and I will have subpoena power,” Paul said at a rally near Smithfield. “And we will get to the bottom of where this virus came from.”
Paul, an ophthalmologist, repeated his view that “overwhelmingly the evidence points to this virus being a leak from a lab.” That is contrary to the scientific consensus “that the virus most likely migrated from animals,” Schreiner notes. “U.S. intelligence agencies remain divided on the origins of the coronavirus but believe China’s leaders did not know about the virus before the start of the global pandemic.”
At a Senate committee hearing last summer, Paul told Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, that “all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab,” referring to a laboratory in Wuhan, China, the city where the virus was discovered. The lab received some U.S. research funding.
“There is no evidence linking the novel coronavirus to a lab, only speculation,” the nonpartisan fact-finding service FactCheck.org reported
after the hearing, in which Paul and Fauci accused each other of lying
Paul and Fauci have also repeatedly clashed
in public over the government’s pandemic policies, and Paul mentioned Fauci nine times in his latest fund-raising letter to Republicans. He said that if he is re-elected and Republicans regain the Senate majority, “I will subpoena Dr. Fauci and all his records and get to the bottom of the origins of this virus.”
Paul is in line to be chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, “one of the most important committees in the Senate,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told the rally crowd, which cheered Paul’s denunciations of what he called government overreach in the pandemic.
Paul “applauded a recent judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs,” Schreiner reports, quoting him: “Last week I was on an airplane for the first time in two years and didn’t have to wear a mask. And you know what I saw in the airport? I saw at least 97% of the other free individuals not wearing masks.”
Schreiner writes, “In this year’s Senate race in Kentucky, Charles Booker is by far the best known of a handful of Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for Paul’s seat in the May 17 primary. Paul is being challenged by several little-known candidates in the GOP primary.
“A general-election campaign between Paul and Booker would be a battle between candidates with starkly different philosophies. Booker, a Black former state lawmaker, narrowly lost a bid for the Senate Democratic nomination in 2020. He is a progressive who touts Medicare for all, anti-poverty programs, a clean-energy agenda and criminal-justice changes. Paul, a former presidential candidate, has accumulated a massive fundraising advantage over Booker. Kentucky has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Wendell Ford in 1992.”