BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul raised the idea Sunday that wealthier people like his opponent, the co-owner of a Kentucky Derby horse, should pay more for Medicare coverage.
Paul also warned in a speech in his hometown that unless the U.S. starts dealing with its mounting debt, it could eventually face the same chaos that erupted in Greece when violent protests rocked that debt-plagued country.
Paul said his Democratic opponent Jack Conway has ducked serious discussions about shoring up entitlement programs facing mounting financial strain as baby boomers retire and live longer. He also accused Conway of vilifying him in television ads showing clips of Paul once seeming to tout the idea of a $2,000 Medicare deductible.
In his speech to supporters at the picnic, the tea party-backed Paul delved into the Medicare issue by floating the notion that wealthier people cover more of their expenses.
"If you own a racehorse like my opponent, or if you're Bill Gates, do you think maybe you should spend more and pay more for the cost of Medicare?" Paul said, adding that taxes won't adequately cover Medicare costs.
Conway and his father co-own a horse that ran in this year's Kentucky Derby.
Paul said in an interview during a GOP picnic that the deductible idea talked about in the ads was hypothetical and not practical, and accused Conway of misleading Kentucky voters.
Conway and Paul are locked in a tight race for the seat of GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring after two terms, in one of the country's most closely watched Senate races.
The Democrat's campaign accused Paul of flip-flopping on Medicare.
"Rand Paul has said loud and clear on at least seven different occasions that he believes Kentucky seniors should pay a $2,000 Medicare deductible," Conway campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley said in a statement.
"Rand cannot seem to run fast enough from his own words."
Paul said that he'll keep talking about solving Medicare's problems, despite the advice of some.
"Now people say 'don't talk about this, don't talk about this,' Paul said. "People are crazy that I'm talking about the solution.
"If you don't, are we going to just devolve to the dumbest of the dumb or the blandest of the bland, and have no debate in our country until we have chaos? That's what happened in Greece — chaos. They couldn't pay their bills, they couldn't pay for their debt. We're having some of that coming in our country if we don't do something."
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.