Bowling Green, Kentucky (CNN) – Rand Paul's wife made a rare public speaking appearance Wednesday to blast Kentucky Democratic Senate nominee Jack Conway for raising questions about Paul's faith in a controversial television ad still on the airwaves.
"I am truly shocked by Conway's ads questioning Rand's faith based on nothing more than anonymous accusations from nearly three decades ago," Kelley Paul told reporters, referencing Conway's now infamous "Aqua Buddha" ad, which claims that Paul mocked religion while in college.
Paul called the ad a "smear" and said she and her husband are both devoted Christians who have attended a Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green for nearly two decades.
"Jack Conway has a family too, and while I'm sure he isn't thinking about it right now, these personal attacks hurt people's families," she said. "I'd have thought someone with a beautiful baby daughter would take that into account, no matter how desperate he may be to win."
Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, was unavailable to make remarks Wednesday because he was performing 20 eye surgeries, his campaign manager Jesse Benton said.
The ad has drawn critics in both political parties, but Benton acknowledged to reporters that the brouhaha had thrown the campaign off its reliable anti-Obama message.
The Conway campaign sees an opening if Paul isn't able to keep the race focused on national issues in the final two weeks of the race.
"We have been talking about faith and gutter politics, and we certainly did need to respond to these gutter attack because they are very personal against Rand and his family," Benton said. "[The campaign] needs to come back to Obamacare, spending, debt and an out of control government in Washington that threatens us all."
Benton said Paul will decide in the next two days whether to participate in Monday's final scheduled debate against Conway, "someone who is personally smearing him."
Update: Kentucky State Auditor and Conway for Senate Chairperson Crit Luallen responded to Paul in a statement Wednesday:
"The question is not whether the ad went too far. The question is whether Rand Paul went too far – and whether he continues to go too far for Kentucky families. When his actions were as extreme as those cited in the ad, Paul owes an explanation to the voters.
"These questions are not being asked in a vacuum; these actions are yet another example of Rand Paul being out-of-step with Kentucky values – whether it's raising the Medicare deductible to $2,000 or proposing a 23% national sales tax, or questioning basic tenants of the Civil Rights law and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"Women in particular are owed an explanation by Paul: for an act that was demeaning to a woman, for his writings where he has been quoted as asking 'Since when have any two people ever been equal?', and for questioning government's role providing equal pay for equal work.
"This is not about Rand Paul's faith or his family. It's about his judgement and his values. It's about those who seek office being held accountable for their actions."
- CNN's Adam Aigner-Treworgy contributed to this report