At GOP unity rally, McConnell says a vote for Williams would be a vote against Obama

05/21/2011 01:43 PM

FRANKFORT — While he won’t appear on a ballot in Kentucky for another year, the 2011 slate of Republican statewide candidates made its intentions clear at the annual Republican unity rally on Saturday: they’re running against President Barack Obama.

That was the message clearly sent by the members of the 2011 GOP slate, who stood together for the first time after the Republican primary this week. They were joined at the Republican Party of Kentucky headquarters by party leaders and other elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, as well as the candidates recently defeated in the primaries.

McConnell told party supporters that a vote for GOP gubernatorial nominee David Williams would be like voting against Obama, one year before Republicans will actually have the chance to do so.

But when the Republicans weren’t bashing Obama, they were trying to show unity. Williams invited his two primary opponents, Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Lousiville businessman Phil Moffett onto the stage during his speech, showering the two with praise.

Neither Moffett nor Holsclaw gave public remarks.

Moffett received more praise from McConnell and Guthrie, of Kentucky’s 2nd congressional district. He said the Republican Party hasn’t seen the last of Moffett after his first run for office.

In an interview after the rally, Moffett said he still wants to talk with Williams before committing to how he might help Williams going forward.

Moffett has said publicly he will support Williams but added that his support of Williams won’t necessarily translate to tea party support for Williams.

That was evident before the rally started, as a few Moffett supporters quietly passed out pieces of paper encouraging party disunity. The front showed images of the Gasden flag, a snake with the words “Don’t Tread on Me” — a symbol for the tea party movement.

The back of the handout said the following: “Grassroots are unified around the principles of individual liberty and limited, accountable government, not candidates or positions. ‘Party unity’ is not possible when party candidates and politicians violate these principles.”

The handouts include the name of one prominent Moffett supporter, Kathy Gornik, who runs Thiel Audio in Lexington.

But the rally wasn’t to be deterred. After praising his primary opponents, Williams brought the entire 2011 Republican slate up to the stage in a show of full unity, he said.

Williams said that while the slate represents a wide array of ideas, they were all unified on one solid principle of pushing back against Obama and the federal government.

Williams also couldn’t resist a shot at Beshear and two newspapers, the Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader. Playing on the common stereotype that Williams is heartless politically, the GOP nominee said that a recent physical he took proved the newspapers wrong in one of their assumptions about him.

-Reporting and video production by Kenny Colston


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