Washington (CNN) – Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul sees economic doom possibly on the horizon for the U.S. using one of the most spectacular collapses in history to illustrate his point.
Paul says there's a similarity between America's current economic situation and the fall of the Roman Empire. On Thursday, the Republican compared recent U.S. government assistance programs – such as the stimulus package – to Roman emperors giving away food and entertainment as the Roman economy collapsed.
"In the latter days of Rome, the economy was crumbling, the emperor…would placate the mob with bread and circus - food and entertainment to placate them since the economy was in shambles and dwindling around them," Paul told Tea Party activists at a rally, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal and confirmed to CNN by Paul's campaign.
"Now in our country, as our economy is in shambles, they give us Cash for Clunkers and a stimulus check and they tell us to go to the mall and spend your money and everything will be OK," the Courier-Journal reports Paul added.
Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton told CNN the candidate was simply using a metaphor to make a serious point.
"He uses it as a metaphor to illustrate that great nations can fall if they're not respectful of their great traditions," Benton said. "If we don't avert ourselves from our path of unsustainable debt…we are going to see some cataclysmic consequences."
Benton was asked if Paul's "metaphor" means the candidate believes the U.S. government is doling out something akin to "bread and circus – food and entertainment" simply to satisfy angry mobs of Americans.
"People are scared and they very much want action," Benton told CNN. "So the government is trying to placate people by showing them they're taking action. But it's the wrong action."
The campaign for Paul's Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Jack Conway, is responding to Paul's words.
Conway press secretary Allison Haley told CNN, "With the unemployment rate in Kentucky well over 10%, Jack Conway is focused on bringing jobs to Kentuckians and restoring accountability to Wall Street and Washington. And we'll leave the comparisons to others."