State Democrats look to make hay from Matt Bevin's "on the draw" comment with senior-citizen voters

10/08/2015 05:59 PM

FRANKFORT — Kentucky Democrats are hoping to capitalize on a comment they say shows Republican Matt Bevin’s insensitivity toward Medicare recipients during Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate, urging about 40 senior citizens to rally against the GOP nominee on Thursday.

Bevin’s campaign, however, is accusing Democrats of targeting seniors with scare tactics weeks before voters elect the next governor Nov. 3.

Democrats are seeking to make hay out of an “on the draw” remark from Bevin.

Conway asked Bevin why he favored drug testing Medicare recipients, and the Democrat clarified that he was asking about Medicare, not Medicaid, during his opponent’s response. At that point, Bevin was discussing “able-bodied, working-age” men and women with no dependents that “there should be expectation of you as somebody who is a recipient, or as it’s often referred to in this state, on the draw.”

Bevin also said immediately after his answer that he was referencing those on Medicaid, not Medicare.

“We’re talking about Medicaid in this instance Jack and you know that’s what we’re talking about, and in fact you’ve called for the very same thing and now you’re trying to bait and switch people,” Bevin said Tuesday.

The debate exchange can be viewed here:

The back-and-forth didn’t end Tuesday, however.

The Kentucky Democratic Party hosted a press conference attended in which speakers decried Bevin’s “on the draw” remarks as insulting to those receiving Medicare benefits. Bevin’s comments regarding drug testing were never mentioned.

KDP Chairman Patrick Hughes and Doyle Stacy of Louisville said the GOP nominee should apologize to Kentuckians who receive Medicare.

Stacy said the comment “demonstrates that he doesn’t understand the significance of Medicare.”

“When I heard Matt Bevin say that I was quote on the draw for using Medicare, I was outraged,” he said. “I paid into Medicare my entire working life. This is a program that I and hundreds of thousands of other seniors have earned.”

Bevin campaign spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said Democrats are attempting to scare seniors by misstating Bevin’s remarks at the Centre College debate.

Bevin “has been very clear about his position” regarding drug testing Medicaid recipients “who are of working age and ability to work,” she said.

“He is not talking about drug testing seniors,” Ditto said in a phone interview. “… This is just a shameful scare tactic by Democrats out of desperation at the very end of the election cycle in order to mislead a very large voting bloc.”

Democrat’s messaging is more of the same negativity, Ditto said, adding that the party has “not been able to run on a positive message about their candidate because he’s out of touch with all of the issues that matter to Kentuckians.”

“They have been spending millions of dollars smearing Matt and twisting his words to no avail, and the polling shows it has not worked and has not moved the needle on voter views,” she said.

Hughes, though, argued that voters are getting more of the same from Bevin, accusing the Republican of “backtracking” from his statements.

Bevin “can say whatever he wants now, but the fact is he was on tape saying it, so he was either lying then or he’s lying now,” Hughes said.

“The only person that should be afraid in this situation is the Bevin campaign,” he said. “Senior citizens know their issues, and they know that Matt Bevin insulted them. They knew this. They brought this issue to us here at KDP. There is no scare tactics going on from KDP.”

The KDP press conference came after the Democratic National Committee issued a statement Wednesday against drug-testing Medicare recipients, as first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, but before the Democratic Governors Association released a Web video from the Centre College debate titled “On the Draw.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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