Friday, August 1, 2014

At first Fancy Farm weekend event, Grimes attacks McConnell as friend of special interests, gets defense

By Megan Ingros
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

PADUCAH, Ky. -- All eyes were on Alison Lundergan Grimes in Paducah Thursday evening at the Alben Barkley Dinner that kicked off the Fancy Farm Picnic weekend.

“I refuse to believe that where we are now is where were supposed to be,” Grimes told about 200 people at the McCracken County Democratic Party event. “We can’t afford six more years of Mitch McConnell.”

That line started a series of lines that often began with “I refuse to believe that we are stuck with a United States senator who . . . ”

“It’s Mitch McConnell that’s at the center of that gridlock, obstruction, and partisanship” in Washington, Grimes said. Referring to TV commercials from McConnell’s first Senate campaign in 1984, she said, “The hound dogs would find Mitch McConnell cozied up to the lobbyists in Washington, D.C. That’s who he sees as his friends.”

In contrast, Grimes cited examples of people she had met on her bus tour from Central Kentucky to Paducah, including a veteran needing medical help and a coal miner who said McConnell wasn’t fighting for black-lung benefits.

Grimes said she had “withstood millions of dollars of nasty, negative attacks” but “This election isn’t up for sale.”

Grimes made two inaccurate statements in her speech. She claimed McConnell “called Cloverlick a fictional place,” but it was McConnell supporters who made the comment about the Harlan County community referenced in her first TV attack ad, calling it fictional because it did not appear on maps. The community lies along Cloverlick Creek, which does appear on maps.

Grimes also quoted McConnell as saying that “in his opinion the barriers have all been lowered for women.” Actually, McConnell said, “Seems to me that most of the barriers have been lowered.”

Grimes touched only briefly on women’s issues but concluded her speech by saying, “Together we are on our way to making history and electing Kentucky’s first female United States senator.”

Edelen comes to Grimes' defense by attacking Paul

State Auditor Adam Edelen gave Grimes a rousing endorsement -- “Let’s replace the greatest obstructionist in modern American history with the greatest instrument of hope we have had in a long time” – and defended her against criticism from pro-Israel interests after she said the country’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile system protected it from terrorists using tunnels from Gaza.

“Alison is a strong supporter of Israel, as are most good Christian people in Kentucky,” Edelen said, while “Mitch McConnell is the person most responsible for putting Rand Paul on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.” Paul has generated opposition by questioning if the U.S. should be spending as much on Israel as it is. 

“Speaking of Rand Paul, Senator, if you can hear me, you’re next.” Edelen, who considered running for governor for next year but is running for re-election as auditor and is considered a possible opponent for Paul’s re-election in 2016. Paul also is exploring a race for president and his aides have argued that he can seek both offices at once.

In an interview before her speech, Grimes said "The people of Kentucky are ready for somebody that will finally fight for the people of the state instead of partisan political interests."

Calloway County Democratic Chair David Ramey said in an interview that Grimes is attracting support because “I think when you look at the future, you think of people like her. There’s an enthusiasm and energy.”

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