Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grimes set the tone with attack, but McConnell handled the issues better at Farm Bureau forum

Our story on the Kentucky Farm Bureau forum has been delayed by the storm and lack of electricity at our student reporter's place in Lexington, but the reviews on today's first true exchange between the major candidates are coming in.

"Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates had a hard time talking about farming without slinging mud," report Adam Beam and Bruce Schreiner of The Associated Press. "Grimes set the tone early by attacking McConnell in her opening statement for his prolonged absences from the Senate Agriculture Committee. . . . The Senate's top-ranking Republican quickly shot back at the forum that the farm bill he eventually helped pass was a good deal but 'It's probably not as good a deal as a $400 a day tour bus,' a reference to the campaign bus Grimes rented from her father's company that the McConnell campaign has said could be a potential illegal campaign gift. McConnell also tried to blunt the criticism for missing committee meetings. He told reporters afterward: "I think she doesn't really understand the legislative process. If you're the leader of one of the parties, you have more consequential things to do than simply go to hearings."

"McConnell presented himself as the real 'change agent' in the Kentucky Senate race on Wednesday, arguing in a candidate forum that ... Grimes actually represents 'the status quo.' Grimes, meanwhile, said it is time to put the minority leader -out to pasture' after 30 years in the Senate, framing the election as a choice between the past and the future," reports James Hohmann of Politico Pro (behind a paywall). "McConnell, 72, looked relaxed and came across as well-versed in agricultural issues — dropping a lot of Washington-type jargon and referring to specific provisions in bills to showcase his experience.

Grimes, 35, sounded rehearsed, her answers hewing closely to talking points. The first-term secretary of state mispronounced the legislative word 'omnibus' and overly gestured with her hands, a distracting nervous tick [sic]. McConnell stayed seated at a conference table as he fielded questions, and Grimes answered from behind a podium." Actually, it was a lectern, but Americans seem to have renamed the thing.

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