Rand Paul campaign slams reports on mine-safety comments — but sticks with position

The campaign of Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is blasting away at a recent report in which the Senate hopeful questions the role of Congress to regulate mine safety.

"This is sloppy reporting on more sloppy reporting," Paul spokesman Ryan Hogan said in a statement, according to the Lexington-Herald Leader.

Hogan was referencing both a July profile of Paul in Details magazine, and comments from that article picked up this week by The Hill and The Washington Post.

Democrats in both the House and Senate are urging stricter mine-safety rules in the wake of April's deadly explosion at a West Virginia coal mine. But Paul in May dismissed the idea that mine safety is a job for Congress, Details reported, arguing instead that local lawmakers are better suited for the task.

"The bottom line is I'm not an expert, so don't give me the power in Washington to be making rules," Paul said in response to a question about the West Virginia blast, according to Details. "You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You'd try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don't, I'm thinking that no one will apply for those jobs."

Paul's campaign office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. But Hogan's statement to the local press indicates that his position remains unchanged.

"Dr. Paul has been clear that he favors more local control rather than ham-fisted, one-size-fits-all dictates from Washington," Hogan said. "Insinuating Washington bureaucrats are the only solution to problems is insulting to Kentucky."

Some mine-safety experts aren't so sure. Tony Oppegard, a Kentucky-based attorney specializing in mine safety, told the Lexington-Herald Leader that Paul's comments were "idiotic."

If the government didn't regulate worker safety in the nation's mines, Oppegard said, "there would be a bloodbath."