FANCY FARM, Ky. – Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes delivered a fierce attack on Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and he did likewise against President Obama as the candidates duked it out rhetorically in front of a record crowd at the 134th annual Fancy Farm Picnic.
“Fancy Farm is fun but there are serious problems confronting our country ... and the president acts like he’s on a PGA tour,” he said, referring to Obama's recent golf outings and criticizing Obama for not going to the border to see the immigration crisis himself. “The reality is that the Obama administration and the liberal allies are making America weaker at home and abroad, by any standard Barack Obama has been a disaster for our country.”
Using the refrain “Sound familiar?” to compare Obama and Grimes, McConnell said the president “was only two years into his first job when he started campaigning for the next one ... his campaign raised millions from extreme liberals ... he really didn’t have any qualifications at all (and) every time he got in trouble and his inexperience became obvious he called in Bill Clinton.” The former president is to make his second and third appearances for Grimes Wednesday in Lexington and Hazard.
“There’s only one thing Barack needs to keep his grip on power, McConnell said. “He needs the U.S. Senate.”
|The candidates and their spouses greeted each other as the 2 p.m. speaking time neared. (Getty Images)|
Using all but 10 second of her allotted eight minutes, Grimes emphasized issues of women’s pay equity, student-loan debt relief, a minimum wage hike and, most often, jobs.
"If Mitch McConnell were a TV show he'd be 'Mad Men'," she said. "Treating women unfairly, stuck in 1968 and ending this season."
Referring to a McConnell aide's online claim that the Harlan County community of Cloverlick, site of one of her TV ads, was not a real place, Grimes said, "If Mitch McConnell doesn't know where your town is, it makes it that much harder for him to ship your jobs overseas."
She added later, "If you are worried about jobs going overseas, who do you think will fight for you? It's time we had a senator who represents the people of this state and not partisan political interests. . . . I want you to put aside the partisan attacks and you'll see one of us represents the Washington establishment, one of us represents Kentucky. One of us represents the past; one of us represents the future. One of us wants just six more years, yet another term, but one of us knows Kentucky deserves better."
Grimes's speech resonated with Ed Elder, 53, a maintenance manager who worked at Paducah's endangered atomic-energy plant for many years. "McConnell came to us and said he was through, he was tired, and had done all he could for the plant ... so when someone tells me they are through with me, I'm through with them," Elder said in an interview before the speaking.
But Albany educator Rudy Thomas, 66, said before the speeches that he was voting for McConnell, whom he called "great." While many if not most who attended the picnic's political speaking already know who they're voting for come November and serve only as supporters during the speeches, others attend to be persuaded.
Tim Thurston, a health-care professional from the Graves County crossroads of Boaz, said before the speaking that he was undecided, using the candidate speeches as a way to draw the line. "Health care is most important to me along with military and taxes." (He couldn't be reached afterward.)
The candidates didn't mention the latter two issues, and only McConnell referred to health care, calling for repeal of "Obamacare."
Health care wasn't mentioned by Gov. Steve Beshear, who embraced Obamacare, but he led off the speaking by taking a selfie with the seated McConnell, explaining, "I just had to get one last photo of the senator before Kentucky voters retire him in November" and attacking McConnell and praising Grimes for most of his speech. The pair ran against each other 18 years ago.
Sen. Rand Paul did for McConnell much as Beshear did for Grimes, leading off with a limerick about Grimes and saying "Barack Obama has one goal this year, to hang on to the Senate this year."