Friday, May 23, 2014

Roundup for May 23: McConnell says of vets secretary, 'I think it'd be time for him to go as well'

Going into the Memorial Day weekend, we have these stories:
  • Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal writes, "Alison Lundergan Grimes has split with the Obama administration in calling for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in response to delays in treatment and falsified record-keeping." Gerth notes that Sen. Mitch McConnell called Monday for a change in "the management team" at VA and called yesterday for Grimes to support his bill that would "make it easier for the VA secretary to fire top-level civil servants responsible for mismanagement, delayed medical care or backlogs."
  • Mark Murray writes on NBC News' First Read makes Grimes' statement the leading example to show that "The Democratic dam is already starting to break" on the issue. The National Journal sees a "growing chorus of Democratic congressional candidates desperate to get some distance from the administration." It notes that "Grimes, whose first TV ad this year touted her work promoting military voting, was the first Democratic candidate to ask for Shinseki's resignation."
  • McConnell came closer to calling for Shinseki to resign, saying at a Louisville press conference with Sen. Rand Paul, "Obviously, Secretary Shinseki has not done a good job, but it's deeper than just him." Noting House passage of a bill to make it easier to fire VA civil servants for misdeeds, McConnell said, "I think it'd be time for him to go as well." What did that mean? Campaign Manager Jesse Benton said his candidate was trying to be diplomatic.
  • Burgess Everett of Politico reports on the presser: McConnell hasn't spoken to defeated foe Matt Bevin since Tuesday night; he and Paul say the party will unify; Paul used different tenses a few sentences apart: “We’re excited to have the Republican Party all pulling together for our nominee. . . . I think the party will pull together quickly.”
  • Everett also notes that Grimes "sent an 'open letter' to the 40 percent of Kentucky Republicans who did not vote for McConnell on Tuesday, insisting she shares the same 'fundamental views and important goals' of most Republicans: Cutting spending, balancing the budget and telling Washington to help Kentuckians or get out of the way."
  • Jason Millman writes on The Washington Post's Wonkblog about three states where federal health reform could be a decisive issue. "Kentucky is about as big of an Obamacare paradox that you could find: the state's exchange is working well, but Obamacare remains unpopular in the state," Millman writes. "It’s also home to one of the more successful Obamacare health insurance exchanges." He concludes, "Grimes may want to have a better answer the next time she's asked whether she would have voted for the health-care law."
  • The Lexington Herald-Leader opines that McConnell should accept Grimes's proposal that they strike an agreement to keep outside groups out of the race, as Democrat Elizabeth Warren and then-Sen. Scott Brown did in Massachusetts in 2012. That seems unlikely, since McConnell is expected to be the beneficiary of millions in super-PAC spending and have a financial advantage.

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