Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15 roundup: Local coverage, big money, abortion-group ads and more gender politics

Here's an illustration of why local news media should cover and record (preferably on video) the Senate candidates when they come to town:
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell "seemed to have little sympathy for students who have accumulated massive amounts of student debt during a town hall with constituents last week," Amanda Terkel writes for the Huffington Post. Asked in Oldham County "what changes should be made so that students aren't leaving school with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt," McConnell said there should be any government intervention and that students should look into schools that are cheaper. "Not everybody needs to go to Yale. I don't know about you guys, but I went to a regular ol' Kentucky college," McConnell said. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville and the law school at the University of Kentucky. Terkel's report was based on a story by The Oldham Era's Taylor Riley, whose report included a 36-minute video of McConnell's remarks.
  • Grimes said she raised more than $4 million in the second quarter of the year, setting a Kentucky record and besting McConnell's $3.1 million. She having reported $6.2 million in her campaign treasury while McConnell reported $9.8 million. Complete reports aren't readily available today because senators have blocked making their reports digital. 
  • Over the weekend, NPR reporter Tamara Keith provided a synopsis of what you could buy in Kentucky for $100 million, the predicted total expenses in the Senate race. "You could buy a bottle of the state's own Maker's Mark whiskey for nearly every man, woman and child in the state," Keith said. The race could end up being the most expensive in history. McConnell's unpopularity in Kentucky created an opening for Grimes, and "not only are the candidates and political parties spending big; so are outside groups," reports Keith.
  • "A national abortion rights group is launching an attack ad against McConnell for 'never doing the right thing for Kentucky women'," Joe Arnold of Louisville's WHAS-TV reports. A NARAL Pro-Choice America spokeswoman told Arnold the group made "a mid-range five-figure ad buy for cable and another mid-range five figure ad buy online in the Lexington and Louisville markets," both of which are modest. Alison Lundergan Grimes said "the Supreme Court 'got it wrong' in the Hobby Lobby case," reports Arnold. McConnell's campaign spokeswoman said, "If you need to know who Alison Lundergan Grimes intends to represent if elected, consider that radical abortion groups are now descending upon Kentucky to run ads on her behalf. The fact that Alison Lundergan Grimes cannot even support Sen. McConnell's common-sense efforts to curb late-term abortions shows Kentuckians that her agenda aligns with President Obama and extreme pro-abortion groups in Washington."
  • McConnell's campaign released a statement regarding McConnell's remarks on the Senate floor today on the "struggles of middle-class women under Obamacare," but the only distinction he made about women was to say that "Research shows that women make about 80 percent of the health-care decisions for their families in this country."
  • McConnell played a little gender politics in criticizing President Obama's decision to replace Cheryl LaFleur as chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with “a male nominee with less experience,” reports Ramsey Cox of The Hill. "McConnell pointed out that Bay has never served as a state utility regulator or as a FERC commissioner. Republicans and some pro-fossil fuel Democrats opposed Bay’s nomination in committee."
  • "In a web video released Monday, McConnell's campaign counters Grimes's claims about McConnell's stance on Medicare policy with excerpts of last week's news coverage which uniformly reported that Grimes's commercial is misleading," Joe Arnold of WHAS 11 reports. The first 20 seconds of the video begins with Grimes's ad, "then proceeds with clips from local television stories and national fact-checking wings of newspapers which reached similar conclusions about the commercial," Arnold says, but the video does not include "critiques of factual problems with McConnell's commercial produced in response to the Grimes ad.".
  • Grimes' campaign released a statement regarding McConnell's history in Washington and his 2011 vote to advance the budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. McConnell "voted against extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed," the statement noted.
  • Harry Enten of Five Thirty Eight writes that polls have over-estimated Democratic Senate candidates' strength in Kentucky and Georgia, the two states where national Democrats are trying to unseat incumbents. In Kentucky, polling data shows Grimes trailing McConnell by only 1.5 percentage points, but the political-statistics website gives her less than a 20 percent chance of winning.

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