James R. Carroll, The Courier-Journal 2:55 p.m. EST January 14, 2015
WASHINGTON - Hours into his New Hampshire trip Wednesday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul quickly came under attack by the Democratic National Committee for comments he allegedly made about people who file disability claims.
In a video the DNC put on YouTube and sent to reporters, Paul is shown talking to a group of people. The DNC said the video was shot in Murphy's Diner in Manchester, N.H. That was listed on the senator's schedule as one of his stops in the Granite State Wednesday.
The senator was recorded saying this: "You know the thing is that all of these programs - there's always somebody who is deserving. Everybody in this room knows somebody who is gaming the system."
"What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn't be getting a disability check," said Paul, an ophthalmologist. "You know, over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn't get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts? Everybody over 40 has a back pain."
DNC spokesman Mo Elleithee said Paul's alleged remarks "are insulting to millions of Americans with disabilities."
"They want leaders who will help them get a fair shot, not condescend to them or accuse them of gaming the system," Elleithee said in a statement. "Rand Paul has again proven he's not a new type of Republican - when it comes to helping expand opportunity, he's no better than Mitt Romney."
A spokesman for Paul's political action committee, RANDPAC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Paul was slated to make six stops Wednesday in New Hampshire, the first state scheduled to hold a presidential primary in 2016. He also is going Friday and Saturday to the early GOP caucus state of Nevada.
The Kentucky lawmaker maintains that he will make a decision on running for president "some time this spring."
But the dynamics of Republican race are changing with the possible entries of both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
In an interview Wednesday with New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Dan Tuohy, Paul said he was surprised by Romney's move to get into the contest, but he insisted the party needs someone new.
"If you try the same old thing you'll get the same old result," Paul said.
About 14 million Americans receive disability checks from the government every month.
According to Social Security Administration data analyzed by National Public Radio for a series "Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America," 33.8 percent of newly disabled workers in 2011 were diagnosed with back pain or other musculoskeletal problems, while 19.2 percent were diagnosed with mental illness, developmental disabilities or similar problems.