Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30 roundup: McConnell vows to push abortion limit as Senate majority leader

News beyond Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Sunday visit for Alison Lundergan Grimes:
  • In advance of the visit, Grimes "introduced a plan aimed at relieving student debt that includes dropping student loan interest to the discount rate banks pay, allowing students to refinance the loans and fully funding Pell grants," reports Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal. "The Grimes plan also calls for making sure women are paid the same as men to help women pay off their student debts."
  • In a "passionate" speech at the National Right to Life convention Saturday in Louisville, Sen. Mitch McConnell "sounded more than ready to take the Senate reins from Majority Leader Harry Reid" to advance anti-abortion legislation if Republicans take over the Senate, Cortney O'Brien reports on "It's long past time for us to join the ranks of most other civilized nations to protect children past 20 weeks in the womb," McConnell said.
  • "Grimes has said she believes the issue of abortion should not be dictated by government but should be a choice a woman makes with her doctor," Gerth writes from the meeting. "She favors keeping the law as it is under Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the right to an abortion." Gerth notes that McConnell didn't speak with reporters afterward and writes, "Abortion hasn't been much of an issue" in the race because the candidates "don't talk about it in stump speeches."
  • PBS NewsHour's "Morning Line" says "Republicans believe conservatives will come home" and "McConnell will find a way to pull out a win in November, despite most public and private polls showing the race to be a dead heat." Grimes must find a way to get out from Obama's shadow, "an effort not helped by the administration’s recent announcement of new regulations to cut carbon pollution from power plants in this coal-friendly state." 
  • Today is the last day of a calendar quarter, making it the end of a campaign-finance reporting period, and both candidates are making pleas for money. An email from McConnell was titled "One last time" and one from Grimes was titled "My last email."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Warren's visit for Grimes is covered somewhat differently by different reporters and news outlets

Different takes on Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaigning for Alison Grimes:
  • In Louisville, where today's events occurred, Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal says Warren "brought her brand of populism to Kentucky" and accused Sen. Mitch McConnell of "betting against you vote after vote after vote, year after year after year," most recently on Warren's bill to allow refinancing of college loans. Gerth notes that Grimes "refused to take questions following the event, ignoring a gaggle of reporters," and ends his 603-word online story with one brief line from the other side: "McConnell's campaign has been critical of the Warren visit, saying that it showed that Grimes is out of touch with Kentucky voters."
  • In the second paragraph of his 610-word online story, Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader plays off a Warren line about being surprised to be in Kentucky because she is surprised to be a senator: "Given that Warren's stances on guns, coal and health care align closely with those of President Barack Obama, Republican allies of ... McConnell also were surprised but delighted when Warren announced she was coming." Among his quotes from Warren: "Alison and I don't agree on everything. We don't. But we agree that there is a lot on the line here. Our economy, our country, our values." The story ends with two paragraphs from McConnell's campaign, including a 50-word quote.
  • Adam Beam, Frankfort correspondent for The Associated Press, led his 674-word story with an example of a student who would benefit from loan refinancing and the fact that "Tuition and fees at Kentucky’s public colleges and universities have increased 110 percent over the last decade." Beam summarizes the candidates' and Warren's positions on the issue and notes, "McConnell’s campaign has not countered Grimes on college tuition, instead focusing on the person Grimes has chosen to promote the plan." He concludes with a quote from a McConnell news release.
  • Ronnie Ellis of Community Newspaper Holdings ends his 718-word story likewise and starts by saying that Warren cast the race as a simple choice: McConnell, who "represents the interests of the wealthy and says 'no, no, no' to measures to assist the middle class. Or voters from a relatively poor state can vote to replace him with ... Grimes, who will represent their economic interests." But "in a brief interview" with Ellis, Waren wouldn't get more personal, saying, "This is about Alison." She said her populist message would work in Kentucky, and Ellis writes, "It worked Sunday morning. Warren evoked echoes of a former kind of Kentucky Democrat, like Wendell Ford who was governor from 1971 to 1974," when he began a 28-year Senate career.

    Or voters from a relatively poor state can vote to replace him with Democratic Alison Lundergan Grimes, who will represent their economic interests. - See more at:
  • Matt Viser of The Boston Globe, in Warren's home state of Massachusetts, says she "was in full campaign mode Sunday, thrusting her fists in the air and delivering folksy aphorisms with a slight twang as she relentlessly attacked" McConnell; and her trips to Kentucky and West Virginia "represent a test of whether her brand of liberal populism, which has captivated the national left, can also appeal in the South and help Democrats defend their hold on the Senate majority. The results of this experiment could have far reaching consequences, not only for her own political fortunes but for the party’s efforts to reconnect with Southern, white, working-class voters." Viser's story includes material from Warren's first of two fund-raisers for Grimes, Saturday night in Northern Kentucky; no story on any of the events could be found on The Cincinnati Enquirer's website by 11:20 p.m. Sunday.
  • For a text and video report on Warren's speech to a rally of about 500 students and others at the University of Louisville, from Nick Storm of cn|2's "Pure Politics," click here.
  • The event was "Observers, however, noted the crowded Grimes event lacked a high number of college-aged students in the audience," Phillip Bailey of WFPL notes in a story that ends with good back-and-forth from the two sides.

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27 roundup: Different polls for different pols

Grimes and McConnell cite competing polls:
  • Alison Lundergan Grimes leads Sen. Mitch McConnell in a new poll 48 percent to 46 percent, with 6 percent of registered voters undecided and an error margin of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. Public Policy Polling, which polls for Democrats and liberal groups, took the telephone survey June 20-22 for the Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund. McConnell's campaign released a poll, taken by Voter Consumer Research June 22-25, that showed him leading Grimes among likely voters 49 to 42, with an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 points. The most apparent difference between the polls is that McConnell's was of likely voters, which it defined as 807 registered voters who "either had voted in one of four previous elections or had registered since November 2012."
  • Thursday on the Senate floor McConnell said he "would like President Barack Obama to come to the state McConnell represents to see the impact environmental regulations have on people who live there," Mitchell Grogg of WYMT reported. McConnell has added a word to his standard "war on coal" phrase, now saying "the Obama administration's war on coal jobs." For the text of his speech, click here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26 roundup: McConnell decries dysfunction, media eye Warren's weekend appearances for Grimes

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's trip to Kentucky this weekend is getting much attention:
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell said the "Senate has reached a new level of dysfunction." McConnell blamed "Senate Democrats for the limited number of bills that have reached President Obama’s desk this year," Steve Benen of MSNBC reported. Benen said, "hearing McConnell complain about Capitol Hill dysfunction is a bit like hearing Uruguay’s Luis Suarez complaining about biting in soccer."
  • National news media are quite interested in Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plans to appear in Kentucky with Alison Lundergan Grimes this weekend. Warren "is expected to tout her student-loan bill that failed to overcome a filibuster earlier this month but is becoming a rallying cry for embattled Democrats," said Nia-Malika Henderson of The Washington Post.  "Coal will no doubt be the elephant in the room in West Virginia and Kentucky, given that Warren supports Obama’s move to curb carbon emissions."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24 roundup: A bridge too far? Or not far enough?

The candidates' Brent Spence Bridge proposals clearly fell flat:
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell proposed to recoup funds for the bridge by repealing the 1931 law that requires union-influenced wages to be paid on federal projects, while Alison Lundergan Grimes called for closing federal tax loopholes. Both have "virtually no chance of actually solving the region's top problem,"writes Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Amanda Van Benschoten. One of the Enquirer's story highlight said both plans "fall flat," and Louisville Business First put a "McConnell's bridge plan falls flat" headline on a story that said "The idea looks like a longshot at best" and cited a story by Chris Wetterich in the Cincinnati Business Courier that said "It looked more like an election-year political ploy than a serious effort to fund a new bridge." McConnell drew the most attention because he held a press conference and "leaked a few details," as Van Benschoten noted. "He took questions from journalists but was clearly irritated at their skepticism of the plan. Then he was whisked out the door to another meeting, less than 30 minutes after arriving. . . . McConnell needs votes from Northern Kentucky, a reliably conservative region in federal races, come November. But almost nobody in the region embraced his plan, even those desperate for any solution that doesn't involve tolls."
  • McConnell cited a Congressional Budget Office study that said the nation could save $13 billion over 10 years by repealing the 1931 law. Grimes's campaign cited arguments against repealing the law, which the study mentioned, and referred to the CBO in the headline on its press release. McConnell's campaign said Grimes had  "once again" issued "a misleading interpretation of a CBO report." The link was to a National Review story about Grimes favoring a higher minimum wage, which the McConnell campaign did not mention. The CBO said a $10.10 hourly minimum wage cost jobs, but Grimes had not cited the CBO as a source in discussing the issue.
  • Jill Bond of the liberal Blue Nation Review accused McConnell of being a hypocrite for proposing to replace the bridge by "lowering the wage of construction workers: The very people whose lives McConnell just swore he was working so hard to ease" in a speech last week that said "Republicans are looking out for the little guy; fighting to make 'life a little easier' and 'paychecks bigger' for 'working mothers' and 'middle-class Americans' while fighting against the same old big-government solutions."

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23 roundup: Grimes works the Purchase, McConnell uses pro-coal rider to block another bill

Go west, young woman, go west:
  • Murray Ledger & Times writer John Wright reports on Friday's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Murray, at which Alison Lundergan Grimes' opening remarks may have left the incorrect impression that it was Sen. Mitch McConnell who disparaged her with a gender reference: "I am the Kentucky woman who my Republican colleague so gentlemanly referred to as an empty dress, that seeks to retire Mitch McConnell." The "colleague" was Brad Dayspring, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who applied the term to Grimes last September. Grimes "received a rousing ovation upon entering the Curris Center Ballroom," Wright reports. "From there, she exchanged seemingly limitless handshakes and hugs from the nearly 300 people who came from throughout the area."
  • Associated Press correspondent Adam Beam reports that Grimes toured Kentucky's four westernmost counties Saturday "with the hopes of cutting into what has become a Republican advantage in federal elections." Voters there don't like President Obama, Bardwell City Councilwoman Kay Presson told him, adding, "She's one of his main supporters and I do not like Obama." But Carlisle County Ambulance Director Wayne Floyd said he was switching from McConnell to Grimes because she "has a real touch with the rural community. . . . I feel like she's got Western Kentucky at her heart." Beam writes, "Grimes has been spending a lot of time – and money – to portray herself as a strong, independent voice in a partisan Washington environment. McConnell has said a vote for Grimes is a vote for Democratic control of the Senate and a vote for President Obama's agenda."
  • McConnell's effort to tack pro-coal language onto two spending bills has put them in jeopardy, Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Times reports. "Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) planned to require any amendment to pass with a super majority of 60 votes," O'Keefe writes. "McConnell objected, saying that the rules would make it impossible for Republicans to seek changes to the spending bills." McConnell wants to set tough conditions for Obama's proposed rules limiting carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants; Obama has said he would veto any bill with the measure attached.

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 20 roundup: Candidates offer ways to rebuild a major bridge, but neither idea is likely to become law

The biggest issue in Northern Kentucky took center stage in the race today:
Kentucky Enquirer photo by Patrick Reddy
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes "dueled over the Brent Spence Bridge," an aging, outdated span that carries Interstates 75 and 71 across the Ohio River from Covington to Cincinnati, Scott Wartman of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Grimes has rejected the idea of tolls to finance a new bridge; just before a McConnell press conference on the issue today, she proposed getting the money "by closing tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and billionaires" and other tax breaks. McConnell proposed to get funding by repealing the law that requires union-influenced wages to be paid on federal projects. Neither idea can become law, panelists on KET's "Comment on Kentucky" said tonight. The Grimes campaign called McConnell's plan "a gimmick," said he had done nothing about the bridge during his nearly 30 years in the Senate, and noted that he said earlier this year the project was up to Kentucky and Ohio. For a more detailed report and video from Jacqueline Pitts of cn|2, click here.
  • The American Federation of Government Employees endorsed Grimes. Last week, two locals of the union, in heavily Republican southeastern Kentucky, endorsed McConnell.
  • Grimes "strains to distance herself from Washington, President Obama and all the insidery politics condemned by folks outside the Beltway," write Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz of The Washington Post, but defeating McConnell "requires a lot of money, so a candidate can’t afford to be too choosy about whose checks she cashes — even if they’re bound to raise a few eyebrows back home," so next week Grimes is set to attend a cocktail-party fundraiser in Manhattan hosted by producer Harvey Weinstein and Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who "have donated heavily to PACs working to unseat McConnell, and have given the max contributions to Grimes . . . the 2014 'it' girl. Although the Democrats’ hold on the Senate is tenuous, ousting the would-be majority leader would be quite the coup for the party."
  • The race ranks No. 7 among the 12 that The Washington Post says will decide control of the Senate: "Republicans are feeling more confident about McConnell's chances following the Republican leader's convincing primary victory last month and their sense that the GOP is quickly uniting behind him. And, President Obama didn't do Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes any favors with his announcement on power plants earlier this month. But, as we have written in this space, McConnell's numbers suggest his vote ceiling is very low. And, in a cycle where they have very few opportunities, Democrats will pour everything they have into this one." The only other Republican-held seat among the 12 is the open seat in Georgia.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 19 roundup: Grimes mum on Obama's Iraq move; McConnell coal measure vexes Democrats

Sen. Mitch McConnell's office puts him in a position to make news, and he did so today:
  • McConnell, who had called for unspecified asistance to Iraq, criticized President Obama today after meeting with him yesterday about sending 300 Special Forces to the threatened nation. McConnell called "Obama as a dovish reluctant warrior who 'has weakened the national security posture of the United States' to the point that 'He is likely to leave the next president with daunting security problems to solve'," William Douglas of McClatchy Newspapers reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has opposed sending U.S. troops to Iraq, did not respond to requests for comment on Obama's move. 
  • Senate Democrats pulled an energy appropriations bill from consideration today after McConnell tried to amend it with his legislation to block Obama's proposed regulations limiting carbon-dioxide emissions to fight climate change. “Democrats on the committee have confirmed the White House threatened to veto the bill over my pro-coal amendment, thus confirming what we already know: The Obama administration will stop at nothing to pursue its war on coal,” McConnell said.
  • Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal writes that Grimes is trying to change the discussion because Obama's regulations have put her "on the defensive." Grimes is trying to change the subject to wages and "criticizing McConnell for 'suddenly' showing concern for the fact that salaries are not rising in America." Grimes noted McConnell's floor speech and press release from yesterday. She attacked McConnell for voting against increasing Kentuckians' wages, while McConnell said Democrats keep blocking Republican proposals to help the middle class.
  • With McConnell coming to Northern Kentucky for an unspecified "legislative announcement" Friday, "There's talk that new legislation in Washington could break the stalemate over building a new Brent Spence Bridge," WCPO's Tom McKee reports. "The other speculation is that another $12 million will be allocated for riverfront development in Covington."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 18 roundup: McConnell offers tax break for child care in home offices; Grimes blasts his record on jobs

After several loads of coal, the focus of the race shifted to jobs:
  • McConnell introduced a bill that he said “would fix a flaw in the tax code so that men or women who work from home aren’t prevented from claiming a deduction for a home office if that office includes a baby crib so they can care for their child while working.” He said the bill “would not only help parents save on child care costs, it would help increase their earning potential by incentivizing them to create new income streams from home.” Grimes replied, “While we're glad he changed his mind at the last minute on the need for affordable child care, Kentuckians know that he opposed the Family and Medical Leave Act and voted to slash childcare services in Kentucky. His last ditch legislation doesn't go far enough.” She noted that she has called for tax breaks to businesses that provide on-site child care or help employees find child care.
  • McConnell outlined several Republican proposals to help working families, in a speech on the Senate floor. Grimes said McConnell only pretends to care about workers' wages. 
  • Grimes visited Accuride's Henderson manufacturing plant Tuesday afternoon," talked about her jobs plan and took several blows at her opponent," reports Kayla Moody of WTVW in Evansville. "Although Grimes’ Western Kentucky visit focused on jobs, she acknowledged the ongoing turmoil in Iraq, making her stance on American involvement clear," against sending troops to Iraq. McConnell "urged the Obama administration to act quickly to assist the besieged Iraqi government, but ... stopped short of saying what U.S. assistance to Baghdad should look like," The Courier-Journal reports.
  • The Beattyville Enterprise reports that Grimes is considering its proposal for a debate in the Lee County seat, but McConnell has not replied to the invitation. Grimes campaigned in Beattyville to put more attention on McConnell's comment that it was not his job to bring jobs to the county. He says he was misunderstood. "He did say he has been fighting ... Obama over policies that he said lose jobs for the state, the Enterprise reports.
  • President Obama is raising money for a political action committee that has run ads attacking McConnell, WFPL reports. "Kentucky Republicans are hoping to connect Obama's appearance at the fundraiser to ... Grimes, who has tried mightily to keep the president at arm's length. . . . The Grimes campaign isn't taking GOP attempts to link her to the super PAC lightly, noting they have called on McConnell to disavow all outside groups."
  • Gov. Steve Beshear slammed McConnell and other critics of federal health reform for "attempting to be for a state program that is no different from Obamacare," Jim Carroll reports for The Courier-Journal. Beshear alluded to McConnell's statement at a May 23 news conference that his criticism was unconnected to the future of Kynect, the state health-insurance exchange funded by the law.
  • The Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg published a 784-word roundup about the candidates' battle on coal issues, and was among newspapers using one of the four campaign-supplied color photos of Grimes in the MRM Mining underground mine at McDowell last week.
  • McConnell will make "a legislative announcement" at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce offices in Fort Mitchell Friday "and his office has requested the presence of Covington city leaders," KyForward reports, but the purpose of the visit is unknown.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17 roundup: Ad targets Grimes for being mum on coal at Reid event; she issues web video on jobs, coal

Coal continues to dominate news of the race:
  • The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a committee supporting Sen. Mitch McConnell, started the "first ad lashing Alison Lundergan Grimes’ secretly taped remarks at a fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid," buying $575,000 in air and cable time for it, Politico reports. Louisville's WHAS-11 provides the ad, which accuses her of lying because she said she would use the event to advocate Kentucky's coal interests. A tape obtained by Politico showed that she did not; she said she discussed coal issues with Reid while in Washington. Politico reports that the McConnell campaign is planning similar advertising. A Grimes aide told Politico that the group's ads have been flawed: “Same group, same type of ad, still false.”
  • Grimes released a 2-minute, 41-second web video highlighting McConnell's statement that it is not his job to bring employment to Lee County and a Republican coal miner saying the statement made him support Grimes; mentioning McConnell's votes against raising the minimum wage; showing a former miner saying McConnell has done nothing for miners; and ending with Grimes saying she would "starkly oppose" those who undermine coal jobs in the state. Watch the video here or below.
  • Ralph Davis of the Floyd County Times reports on Grimes's visit last week to an underground coal mine (left) and a roundtable discussion in Prestonsburg.
  • McConnell chided Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy "for appearing on an HBO comedy talk show while she has refused to meet with his constituents to hear how regulations will harm them," The Hill reports.
  • Grimes reached out to veterans. In a statement, she called on McConnell to extend unemployment insurance benefits for veterans and "to make permanent the federal VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which provides businesses a one-time tax credit for every unemployed or disabled veteran they hire."

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16 roundup: Local unions for guards at 2 federal prisons endorse McConnell; Grimes seeks coal votes

As summer heat arrives, campaign heat increases:
  • McConnell announced that he has been endorsed by corrections officers at federal prisons in Clay and McCreary counties, both heavily Republican areas. Officers of both American Federation of Government Employees locals said McConnell had always been responsive to their safety and security concerns. McConnell has also been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.
  • Alison Lundergan Grimes, dressed in overalls, visited an underground coal mine and had a roundtable discussion in Floyd County Friday. WYMT-TV reports she said, "I don't agree with what the president has done, his energy philosophy. It's a stark contrast to mine. But I also don't agree with the 30 years of failed leadership; Mitch McConnell has had now three decades to address the issues facing Kentucky, and he has not saved one coal job." Grimes has blamed Sen. McConnell for the decline in Kentucky coal jobs while he has been in office; he blames President Obama for the decline in the last two years. For a release from the Grimes campaign, click here.
  • EMILY's List, which supports female candidates, is running a TV commercial in North Carolina to re-elect Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and says it will spend $3 million on a statewide voter mobilization effort, raising the question of whether the group might also make an effort for Grimes. The group's name stands for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" and it is known for its early involvement in races.

Grimes and McConnell duke it out over student loans; bill's sponsor to campaign for fellow Democrat

By Megan Ingros
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes attacked Sen. Mitch McConnell for blocking a bill that would have let Americans refinance student loans and paid the cost by raising taxes on the wealthy.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), announced soon after the June 11 vote that she will be campaigning for Grimes in Kentucky. Asked on MSNBC how she planned to fight back, she said, "One way I'm going to start fighting back is I'm going to go down to Kentucky and I'm going to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes. She's tough, she's feisty, she endorsed the student loan bill, said she wanted to bring down interest rates for Kentuckians."

Warren told interviewer Chris Hayes, "Mitch McConnell is there for millionaires and billionaires. He is not there for people who are working hard playing by the rules and trying to build a future for themselves."

McConnell said on the Senate floor, "Senate Democrats don't actually want a solution for students. They want an issue to campaign on -- to save their own hides in November. . . . Students can understand that this bill won't make college more affordable. They understand it won't reduce the amount of money they have to borrow. And students know it won't do a thing to fix the economy that's depriving so many young Americans of jobs."

McConnell said Democratic Whip Charles Schumer said two years ago that if Democrats "wanted to be, quote, political about this" issue they would have paired it with a tax increase on the wealthy. "His words show, without equivocation, that Senate Democrats are now playing politics with the futures of young Americans -- instead of doing something about the VA crisis."

McConnell said the Democrats who run the Senate should give "full attention" to legislation addressing problems in the Department for Veteran Affairs health care system rather than passing bills to create issues for the election.

Warren's bill died Thursday, June 11 on a 56-38 vote, four votes short of the 60 needed to pass significant legislation in the Senate. Only three Republicans voted with Democrats to proceed with the bill.

Grimes, in a statement, said the bill would have helped 360,000 Kentuckians with student loan debt."The Obama administration estimated the bill could have helped 25 million borrowers save $2,000 over the lifetime of their loans," The Washington Post reported. The default rate for student loans is higher then for other types of loans.

Grimes said the average Kentuckian's student loan debt is $22,384, and "this vote against our middle-class families underscores the fact that my opponent has been in Washington for far too long and just does not get it."

Grimes released a record and background of McConnell's history with student loans. One example given was in 2013 when McConnell "voted against ending filibuster on plan to extend student loan interest rates for two years and keep them from doubling by closing tax loopholes including those for oil companies."

Grimes called on the Senate "to pass both the legislation to ease student loan burden as well as the bipartisan bill to address problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs."

Friday, June 13, 2014

June 11-13: Grimes up marginally in poll; candidates stake out Iraq positions; more military-women mail

Roundup for June 11-13:
  • Alison Lundergan Grimes issued a press release saying American troops should not be sent back to Iraq. Her statement did not address the possibility of action not involving troops, but concluded, "The United States should continue to play a supportive role by providing useful intelligence." Sen. Mitch McConnell said the U.S. should "quickly provide assistance" to Iraq but didn't say what form it should take.
  • Grimes led McConnell 49 percent to 46 percent in an automated telephone poll of 808 likely voters drawn from a voter file by Magellan Strategies, a Republican survey firm, June 4-5. As in earlier surveys, the results are well within the poll's error margin, plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, but this one gives Grimes her largest percentage in any published poll so far.
  • The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a "super PAC" supporting McConnell, has sent a third mailer touting his support for women in the military. Its content is virtually the same as the first two except for illustrations; this one shows a young girl holding a paper airplane and tells readers, "When she grows up, if she wants to fly in the military, she's going to need our support."
  • McConnell's "Freedom to Fish" bill was signed into law. The legislation bans the Army Corps of Engineers from restricting access to the tailwaters of the Wolf Creek (Lake Cumberland) and Barkley dams.
  • Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service said on KET's "Comment on Kentucky" that McConnell is winning "hands down" when moderator Bill Bryant asked which candidate is winning "that battle for control of the message." Ellis said of Grimes, "She's been on the defensive. I think before the primary she was much more effective in talking about his role in the Washington dysfunction." Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader made similar remarks on the show last week. Ellis said Grimes is more effective talking about economic and women's issues.
  • McConnell has proposed three "Lincoln-Douglas style" debates with Grimes, but Ellis writes in his column, "After listening to the dismal and often downright silly campaign rhetoric ... I can confidently say neither is an Abraham Lincoln or a Stephen Douglas. . . . I was on a media panel last week and the moderator asked where the campaign is headed, to which I answered, 'Downhill.' But it’s such a long time until November that we likely have a long way to go before we hit bottom. Kentuckians deserve better but they won’t get it and probably won’t even demand it."
  • The Kentucky New Era of Hopkinsville said in an editorial that the candidates should have three debates and KET "probably should handle one ... and allow voters to phone in some of the questions. At least one debate should occur before a live audience in an auditorium that seats no less than a few hundred people. Finally, at least one debate should occur in October, when voters are actually paying attention to the race. . . . The candidates should also show some respect to the rural areas of Kentucky when they agree on when and where to debate. Ideally, McConnell and Grimes could debate once in the Golden Triangle, once in Western Kentucky and once in Eastern Kentucky."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10 roundup: Youngman says McConnell is framing the race and Grimes needs to put him on defense

No breaking news in the Senate race today, but there's a look back at a weekend panel show:
  • KET's John Gregory summarizes a discussion of the race on Friday's edition of "Comment on Kentucky," which was rebroadcast Sunday and is online. His focus is on remarks by Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader: "Youngman says that since the primary three weeks ago, the media has focused on issues McConnell wants to discuss: coal, Obamacare, and candidate debates. Youngman says Grimes must find a way to set the agenda and tempo of the campaign so as to put McConnell on defense." The story is accompanied by a video clip running almost five minutes. Moderator Bill Bryant asked if Grimes has been effective at putting distance between herself and President Obama; Youngman replied, "When it comes to coal it's going to be a continuing uphill battle for her." Asked if Grimes' stance on coal is alienating environmentalists, Ronnie Ellis of the CNHI newspaper group said, "only on the fundraising side." Youngman added, "There's almost nothing she can do or say to make her base think that she's less appealing than Mitch McConnell." 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Magazine recalls last time Democrats used the minimum wage as a big issue, looks at Kentucky race

By Al Cross

The latest issue of The Washington Monthly (June/July/August) has two references to Sen. Mitch McConnell's bid for re-election, both in prominent articles.

Paul Glastris, the magazine's editor in chief, writes that Democrats are "working the GOP's weak spot" by pushing for an increase in the minimum wage, a strategy that worked for them when Bill Clinton was running for a second term as president in 1996. Republican Bob Dole was so "flummoxed" by Democrats' pressure on the issue that he resigned from the Senate to campaign full-time.

Glastris notes that at a February fund-raiser in Louisville for Alison Lundergan Grimes, Clinton "said . . . that McConnell's opposition to the minimum wage is reason enough to support Grimes. If she wins in November it wouldn't be the first time Clinton used the minimum wage to help drive a GOP Senate leader out of office."

Glastris notes several differences "that complicate the comparison. Then it was a presidential year; now it's a midterm." I think what he means is that a wage hike just before the election boosted Democrats' chances more than it would in a midterm election because Clinton was on the ballot and they rode his coattails and shared the credit. In this non-presidential year, a compromise appears to be available between the current $7.25 an hour and Democrats' proposed steps to $10.10 over three years, but Democrats appear unwilling to cut a deal because they think the more effective political strategy is to have an issue rather than a higher wage. Without a president on the ballot to offer coattails, credit for passing the bill would be too diffuse.

In the "Tilting at Windmills" column that opens the magazine, Monthly contributing editor Michelle Cottle of the National Journal finds it ironic that Sen. Mitch McConnell is "trying to weather an incoming storm of hostile free speech" after doing "his damnedest to smother any attempt to smother any attempt to reduce the influence of money in politics with his big, fluffy, money-equals-free-speech pillow" and seeing the Supreme Court put many of his views into case law.

Cottle notes that Grimes has out-raised the Senate Republican leader in two of the last three quarters, but "I assume that, in the end, McConnell will live to serve another term. . . . Still, it's been a while since Darth Vader had a real race on his hands, and nobody more deserves to have to go out and grub for campaign cash." What Cottle apparently doesn't realize is that McConnell, unlike most politicians, actually enjoys raising money.

June 9 roundup: Grimes mum on coal at Reid event; her vote for leader is key to coal industry, exec says

Coal continues to be a factor that won't be ignored:
  • Alison Lundergan Grimes didn't "use a high-dollar fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a forum to promote Kentucky’s coal industry" though her campaign said she would "use the event to share the stories of how Kentuckians are hurting and demand that the Senate take action to invest in clean coal technology," Manu Raju and Burgess Everett report late this afternoon for Politico, from an audio recording provided by an unnamed attendee. "The Grimes campaign hasn’t disputed the authenticity of the recording and says she had a 'private conversation' with Reid about coal and energy," they write. Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson "said the conversations occurred "before the event and in conversations since then as well."
  • Adam Beam and Jonathan Mattise of The Associated Press report, "In other coal-producing areas such as Ohio and Virginia, Democrats have been able to win even with the industry against them. That's not an option for politicians in the heart of Appalachia." Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett "said likely the only thing that would ease his members' concerns is if Grimes said she would not vote for Reid to be majority leader if she was elected."
  • AP includes Kentucky in a guide to "six competitive Senate races where a change in party is possible," saying, "Obama's recent announcement of stricter standards for greenhouse gas emissions has given [Sen. Mitch] McConnell more ammunition in Kentucky, one of the nation's top coal producers."
  • A Grimes press release contains multiple links to stories with quotes about how she continues to fight for coal.
  • Republican press releases point out an interview of independent candidate Ed Marksberry of Owensboro on "The Powers that Be" on Louisville's WHAS-TV, in which he revived his charge that someone close to Grimes's campaign offered to help him retire his campaign debt in return for getting out of the race. Marksberry told Joe Arnold he would eventually disclose who made the offer.
  • Amanda Van Benschoten of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Grimes's "surprisingly formidable" candidacy has perked up Democrats in Northern Kentucky, a region that has become strongly Republican over the last 30 years. "The presence of a young, energetic, well-funded, personable candidate atop the ticket can help breathe new life into the Democratic base, local party leaders believe – and attract moderates and Independents to Democratic principles, they hope."
  • What would we do with $100 million? The State Journal of Frankfort asks that question in an editorial decrying the expected level of total spending in the race. The newspaper offers other uses for such a large amount of money such as road repairs, Kentucky's retirement systems and schools.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Weekend roundup: Charge in anti-Grimes ad based on coal lobbyist's comment; her job ad rated 'half true'

There's lots to catch up on in the Senate race as a new week begins:
  • The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a "super PAC" supporting McConnell, has started a new television commercial on the coal issue, which concludes, "She talks tough now, but Alison Grimes is for Obama, not Kentucky."

    The ad says “Grimes was silent as Obama attacked coal,” and attributes that to a Sept. 18 WFPL story that includes a statement from Grimes. The charge and attribution appear to hang on the story's paraphrase of the president of the Kentucky Coal Association: “[Bill] Bissett adds that Grimes hasn't said much about the subject until now and rarely was involved with the industry's concerns or needs in her capacity as secretary of state.” UPDATE, June 10: says "Grimes has been anything but silent" on coal, and "When it comes to regulations on the coal industry, Grimes has repeatedly distanced herself from Obama throughout her campaign."
  • Politifact, the fact-checking service of the Tampa Bay Times, has rated only "half true" the Grimes radio ad citing McConnell's pre-primary comment to The Beattyville Enterprise that it is not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky. McConnell has blamed the report on a misunderstanding, and Politifact says Grimes uses the quote out of context. It is also being used in a TV ad by Democrats' Senate Majority PAC.
  • Such ads are "largely paid for by people outside of Kentucky, that will provide us with little relevant or accurate information about the candidates or the issues," University of Kentucky political-science professor Don Gross told John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader for a story about the candidates' campaign-finance reports, Cheves concludes, "For all involved, this is simply business."
  • In Sunday columns in The Courier-Journal, Joe Gerth says the candidates are not addressing the issues, Al Cross says they're on the wrong side of history regarding coal, and Jim Carroll says McConnell's views on campaign-finance limits are not popular with the public. Gerth also has a story on Grimes' radio ad about coal, and Carroll writes that "The early success of Kentucky’s health care exchange, Kynect, is creating quandaries" for the candidates.
  • McConnell told the state Republican dinner Saturday night that Grimes is out of touch with coal miners, Bruce Schreiner of The Associated Press reports.
  • McConnell is "all in" to help Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran win a June 24 runoff after finishing a close second to tea-party candidate Chris McDaniel last Tuesday, according to National Republican Senatorial Committee staffers quoted by Anna Palmer of Politico. In an email for a Tuesday fundraiser, McConnell wrote, “Our friend Thad is in a battle in the coming weeks that will have a very real impact on our fight for the majority. You have helped all of us in the past, and we need your help for him now.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Roundup for June 5: Grimes, Reid raise money; PAC for McConnell sends another military-women mailer; Grimes makes counter-offer on debates

A high-profile event and two pieces of print advertising are among today's news:
  • Alison Lundergan Grimes attended a fund-raiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Washington this morning, prompting criticism from Mitch McConnell's campaign. The fund-raiser was held less than 24 hours after Reid blocked McConnell's bill to put hurdles in front of the proposed carbon-dioxide rules the Obama administration announced three days ago.
  • McConnell asked the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a hearing in Eastern Kentucky on its proposed carbon-dioxide regulations, which the agency declined to do as it was drafting the regulations.
  • The initial version of Grimes's newspaper ad about coal featured a European male model posing as a miner, James Hohmann reports for Politico. Grimes's campaign says it replaced the photo before the ad was printed, but it didn't notify its media list. The revised version appears here; for the original version, click here.
  • A political action committee supporting McConnell, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, sent its second mail piece promoting the senator's efforts to help women in the military, indicating the importance of female voters to the race. The first one was sent after the May primary. For a black-and-white version of the latest full-color mailer, click here.
  • Grimes made a counter-offer to McConnell's debate plan, saying debates should be held before and after Labor Day, with citizens asking questions; and accepting KET's proposed forum on Oct. 13.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Roundup for June 4: Grimes attacks Obama in radio commercial; PAC radio ad ties her to president

Coal continues to dominate news and advertising in the race:
  • Alison Lundergan Grimes has started a one-minute radio commercial in which she attacks her fellow Democrat, President Obama, for "targeting Kentucky coal with pie-in-the-sky regulations that are impossible to achieve. It's clear you have no idea how this affects Kentucky." In what PBS NewsHour Politics calls "a bit of messaging jujitsu," the ad includes two jabs at Sen. Mitch McConnell, saying the state has 18,000 fewer coal jobs since he became senator (in 1985; the date is not mentioned) and "Senator McConnell says it's not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky" (a quote McConnell says came from a misunderstanding).
  • Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a "super PAC" for McConnell, is running a one-minute radio commercial linking Grimes to Obama and his new carbon-dioxide regulations: “Grimes was a Barack Obama delegate, supporting him even after he declared war on our coal communities.” Grimes was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The McConnell campaign issued a press release making the same point.
  • Phillip Bailey of Louisville's WFPL says Grimes "is going on the offensive, saying McConnell voted against an omnibus bill containing $500 million for fossil fuel research and development" that was supported by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Bailey quotes a statement from Grimes: "I will never support cutting such programs Indeed, I will spare no effort to expand them."
  • McConnell's bill to "stop the administration from implementing the new [carbon dioxide] rule until it can prove no jobs will be lost and that energy prices won’t increase" was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, The Hill reports. McConnell asked unanimous consent for the Senate to consider the bill, which was filed Tuesday. That allows any senator to block consideration by objecting. View the bill here

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

McConnell, Reid make rare joint appearance to discuss campaign-finance constitutional amendment

McConnell listens to Reid. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)
Sen. Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid "have been sparring over campaign finance for months," NBC News' First Read notess, and Tuesday they testified about it before the Senate Judiciary Committee, marking the first time both had spoken to the panel about policy – in this case, a constitutional amendment to roll back recent Supreme Court decisions relaxing rules for political contributions.

CNN says it was "the political equivalent of a heavyweight fight," but it didn't last long. "Neither senator stayed to answer questions from their colleagues," notes Ashley Parker of The New York Times.

Reid, who as majority leader testified first and then left, said he has felt "unclean" after raising millions of dollars to win election and re-election in Nevada 1998, 2004 and 2010. "I hope that did not corrupt me, but it was corrupting," he said. "“The flood of dark money into our nation’s political system poses the greatest threat to our democracy that I have witnessed during my time in public service  . . . The Constitution doesn't give corporations a vote, and it doesn't give dollar bills a vote," so he supports the amendment.

McConnell "called it a threat to basic speech rights," CNN reports. "By setting spending rates, McConnell argued, Congress would chose who gets how much influence in politics." CBS reports, "By including a provision that expressly says Congress cannot abridge the freedom of the press, McConnell said the amendment would 'allow the government to favor certain speakers over others -- it would guarantee preferential treatment.' He continued, 'This is really great if you're a corporation that owns a newspaper -- you get your speech, but nobody else does.'" For a video of his statement, click here.

McConnell also said the amendment is being proposed to "stir up one party's political base so they'll show up in November. . . . Everybody on this committee knows this proposal is never going to pass Congress." Passage of a constitutional amendment from Congress requires a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House, and approval by three-fourths of state legislatures. Given the current makeup of Congress and the legislatures, the proposal "is almost certain to fail," Parker writes. "Amending the Constitution is incredibly hard. Perhaps too hard, some people believe," writes Francene Kiefer of the Christian Science Monitor. "The challenge was seen at Tuesday’s hearing."

Roundup for June 3: plenty of coal dust

Day-after fallout from the Obama administration's announcement of its plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions:
  • McConnell announced this morning that he had filed a bill that would block the regulations unless there were certifications by the Labor Department that it would not generate loss of employment, from the Congressional Budget Office that it would not reduce the gross domestic product, from the Energy Information Administration that it would not increase electricity rates, and from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. that electricity delivery would remain reliable. In a Senate-floor speech, he called the plan "Obamacare 2.0."
  • In a press release, Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst called the bill inadequate and noted that Grimes said in January that the nation must "invest in clean coal technology, support coal and energy research, and keep foreign markets open for coal." He did not offer specifics, but said Grimes would "work with members of both parties to get Washington working for Kentucky," which he said McConnell "has lost sight of."
  • Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal reports the reactions of Grimes and McConnell, in a text story and a two-minute video. He quotes University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss as saying that the issue couldn't have arisen at a worse time for Grimes because "it wasn't necessarily clear" that McConnell's emphasis on the issue "would be justified. I mean, there really wasn't a coal issue that could become the focal point of the campaign, but the issuance of new regs allows it to be that focal point."
  • The report by Ryan Alessi of cn|2 includes a clip of McConnell answering Gerth's question at a May 23 press conference about evidence that "Coal makes you sick," a quip by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that McConnell often uses to portray Democrats as anti-coal. McConnell replied, "We're burning coal cleaner and cleaner and cleaner," and said the war is not just against coal, but all fossil fuels, posing threats of electricity shortages. "We all want a cleaner environment. I think America has made incredible strides toward a cleaner environment . . . but this is an economic disaster for us, and a power-supply disaster for a lot of the rest of the country."
  • McConnell spoke more than a week before announcement of the plan, which was not as tough as many in the coal industry had feared, Alicia Mundy and John W. Miller report for The Wall Street Journal: "The coal industry quickly and loudly criticized proposed new U.S. emissions rules for power plants, saying that the proposal was tougher than expected and posed a threat to the industry. But behind the scenes, some people in the industry said were relieved." Max Ehrenfreund of The Washington Post reports, "A note from J.P. Morgan largely dismisses the proposal, noting that the measures are not as stringent as had been expected, among both industry watchers and environmentalists."
  • Many national news reports have highlighted Grimes's opposition to the rules, which MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor, a supporter of them, called "incredibly risky" for Democratic candidates and "a misstep" by the administration. "How the Democrats message around that really remains to be seen," she said this morning. Alexandra Jaffe of The Hill rounded up reaction.
  • "Obama’s decision to propose tougher limits on power-plant emissions poses a threat to Democrats amid the coal-rich mountainsides of Kentucky and to his party’s efforts to keep control of the U.S. Senate," John McCormick writes for Bloomberg News, quoting Bill Bissett of the Kentucky Coal Association: “The president seems willing to sacrifice Democrats for his legacy. Any linkage to the president in a coal-producing state is a tremendous liability.” McCormick's story focuses on Leslie County without noting that it is heavily Republican and quotes businessman C. Allen Muncy without noting that as county judge-executive in 1981 he was convicted of vote fraud.
  • On Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere reports "White House aides say they didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the Senate races where Democrats were going to come out bashing them. What they’re looking at in the White House is the Washington Post/ABC poll out Monday which showed wide support for the president’s climate efforts." The story also reveals that Kentucky's Steve Beshear was among the governors Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy called Sunday.
  • Joe Kirkland of Environment & Energy News recalls the beginning of "the fight over the future of the carbon-intensive U.S. electricity system," narrow House passage of a cap-and-trade bill in 2009. "By the time a decision was made by Senate leaders to drop the Senate's effort to cobble together a climate bill, the economy felt as if it had entered a long malaise. The seams that held together the U.S. financial system were stretched, and jobless numbers remained stubborn. Tea-party candidates were revving up their engines to go after big spenders in Congress, and oil tycoons and conservative think tanks ideologically opposed to responding to climate change spent [lots] of money to undermine scientific findings and shift public opinion. Conventional wisdom seemed to coalesce around inaction, even as scientists issued warnings about extreme weather resulting from rising concentrations of heat-trapping carbon in the atmosphere. Today . . . the economy is in much better shape. Public support for action appears stronger. A boom in domestic production has already accelerated the switch from coal to natural gas. But the idea of putting the federal government in charge of slashing emissions across a big, complex economy is still contentious." (Read more, subscription required)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Obama EPA's proposed new rules for CO2 put Grimes on defensive; she says he's attacking Ky. coal industry

Coal was already a big issue in the Senate race, and it got bigger today with the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal of regulations to limit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from coal-fired power plants, part of President Obama's campaign against climate change.

Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader set the stage for the 10 a.m. release of the proposal with a story saying "Grimes has endeavored to convince voters she is a pro-coal Democrat, using the issue to put space between her and an unpopular president from the same party who has been routinely vilified in Kentucky for his 'war on coal.' . . . But as McConnell works overtime to try to tie Grimes to Obama in voters' minds, he is using coal and Grimes' fundraising connections to send the message that a vote for Grimes is a vote for [Senate Democratic Leader Harry] Reid, Obama and a death sentence for the coal industry."

Starting Tuesday, the "super PAC" Kentuckians for Strong Leadership will start a radio commercial "among the most direct in tying Grimes to Reid and Obama, saying Grimes is raising 'big bucks' with Reid and 'was a Barack Obama delegate, supporting him even after he declared war on our coal communities'," Youngman reports. "Grimes' planned fundraiser with Reid [on Wednesday] gives Republicans added ammunition." Youngman starts his story with a description of this pro-coal ad McConnell ran in his primary campaign:

McConnell's Senate office issued a 385-word statement saying the plan had "no clear benefit" and calling it "a dagger in the heart of the American middle class, and to representative democracy itself." He said liberals are "helping their political supporters in states like California and New York while inflicting acute pain on states like Kentucky." He said he would introduce legislation to block the plan. His campaign office said Obama, Reid and liberals who "know that a vote for her is a vote to ensure further implementation of their anti-coal agenda in the U.S. Senate."

A few minutes later, Grimes issued this 61-word statement: "President Obama's new EPA rule is more proof that Washington isn't working for Kentucky. Coal keeps the lights on in the commonwealth, providing a way for thousands of Kentuckians to put food on their tables. When I'm in the U.S. Senate, I will fiercely oppose the president's attack on Kentucky's coal industry because protecting our jobs will be my number-one priority."

Grimes newspaper ad
At mid-afternoon, the Grimes campaign announced that it would start a "multifaceted coal country campaign," including newspaper advertising in the state's two coalfields. "In the U.S. Senate, Alison will work with members of both parties and fight for federal investment in clean coal technology that can help save and create coal jobs.

Obama's proposal shines "spotlight on a growing division within the Democratic Party: On one side are major donors, who take a particular interest in environmental causes and are becoming increasingly important to the party. On the other are candidates from energy-producing states — where regulations on coal-fired power plants could have the most detrimental effects — whose fates will decide control of the Senate," writes Reid Wilson of The Washington Post.

Wilson quotes Democratic consultant Jim Cauley, a Pikeville native who managed Obama's 2004 Senate race and has worked for Gov. Steve Beshear: “If I were running, I would get the governor to sue and try to tie it up in the courts. Coal has just become the cultural litmus test as to whose side you are on.” (Read more)

Roundup for June 2

Today's non-coal news in the race:

  • Washington observers have too much faith that McConnell will win, Chris Cillizza writes in his column "The Fix" in The Washington Post. His first quote is from a "Republican operative closely connected with the McConnell world, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the race candidly." that person said, “I think the odds are slightly better than 50/50, but not much better. The election is about us, and with 30 years of record and the last [10] in leadership, that is tough.” Cillizza still makes McConnell the favorite because of his political skills and the unpopularity of President Obama, but adds: "The question at the heart of this campaign — and one we won’t probably know the answer to until the day after the election — is this: Whose unpopularity matters more, McConnell’s or Obama’s?" (Read more)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Roundup for June 1: Debating debates

Two of Kentucky's leading political reporters say Sen. Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes need to debate closer to the election, not have a third and final debate "around Labor Day," as McConnell has proposed:
  • "The dance about debates in the U.S. Senate race that's been going on for the last week and a half is looking more and more like a dance to not debate," writes Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal. "Both sides should stop with the games and agree to debate on reasonable terms," such as at least one meeting where someone else asks questions, such as KET's Bill Goodman. The column is accompanied by a video from The Wall Street Journal's Gerry Seib saying the Republican primary may make the race the most expensive ever for the Senate. The C-J also has a debate story by Gerth and Washington correspondent Jim Carroll.
  • In the debate about debates, "At stake is voters’ ability to hear for themselves the positions of the candidates and differences between them in what both McConnell and Grimes have described as the most important race in the country this fall," says Ryan Alessi of "Pure Politics" on Time Warner Cable's cn|2. "So far both McConnell and Grimes have been guarded with the media and, by extension, Kentucky voters." Alessi offers a video segment of his show, in which he and his staff discuss "a half-dozen issues on which McConnell and Grimes should be pressed" in a series of debates:

  • Meanwhile, Carroll has a story on a big issue to be debated: the future of coal and the air-pollution rules President Obama will announce Monday. The Lexington Herald-Leader earlier published a story on the issue by Sean Cockerham of McClatchy Newspapers.