GOP Breakfast: McConnell and Paul step up efforts to flip incumbency argument

08/02/2014 10:13 AM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes might be the challenger, but Republicans are concentrating their messages to describe her as a pawn of the Democrats — and essentially as a pseudo-incumbent.

U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul delivered that unified message at the Graves County Republican breakfast Saturday, which is a warm-up for the Fancy Farm picnic’s political speaking event.

“She’s a new face for the status quo – for no change whatsoever. She’s a new face for Barack Obama. She’s a new face for Harry Reid. She’s a new face for no change at all,” McConnell said of his opponent, although he didn’t mention Grimes by name.

Paul told the crowd of several hundred that spilled out of the Graves County High School cafeteria that they should question their neighbors who are considering voting for Grimes, which could allow Reid to remain as U.S. Senate majority leader.

“It is an iron fist for a party that hates Kentucky, hates coal … The Democrats completely control it. I don’t know how any Kentuckian can consider a vote for Ms. Grimes,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said when following McConnell during the speaking .

Grimes, the first-term secretary of state, has focused her campaign on McConnell, questioning what he’s accomplished in 30 years in the U.S. Senate, including as U.S. Senate minority leader.

McConnell spent the meat of his remarks criticizing Obama over recent issues, including the economy, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and immigration.

“They’ve learned how to send drugs into our country. Now they’ve learned how to send unaccompanied minors into the country,” McConnell said of the latest immigration controversy. “The policy of the United States of America with regard to unaccomplined minors coming out our country, ought to be compassionate detainment and immediate return.”

He laid out his staunch support for Israel and offered the president his advice.

“What the president needs to do is to say to our Israieli friends and allies is: You need to do what you need to do to protect your country. The last thing we need is John Kerry to force the Israelis to make a bad deal,” he said.

And McConnell blamed Obama for a slow “bounce-back from a deep recession,” although that statement comes days after the July economic numbers showed the United States had one of its strongest months in recent years with 209,000 jobs created and high consumer confidence.

McConnell also joked about the picnic in which he was about the speak.

“Most of the good gimmicks we’ve come up with have been outlawed the next year,” McConnell said. He referred to the 1994 picnic when McConnell brought a life-sized cutout of then-President Bill Clinton on stage and urged Democrats to have their picture taken. Two years later, the political speaking organizers banned officials from bringing props on stage.

In that way, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Twenty years later, McConnell still relies on nationalizing the race by linking Democrats to the leader of that party.

No announcement yet

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer opened the breakfast as the emcee. But he declined to scoop himself by hinting about his 2015 gubernatorial ambitions. Comer is expected to announce whether he’ll run during the speaking at the afternoon picnic.

But Comer did aim a joke at the only announced Democratic candidate for governor, Attorney General Jack Conway.

“I brought some tissues for Jack Conway if he starts crying,” Comer said. “I just want the media to know we’re going to be good sportsmen today.”

Comer opened up the breakfast with a rallying cry for Republicans to take control of the state House, which would likely require Republicans to knock off two Democratic incumbents in west Kentucky, Reps. Will Coursey and Gerald Watkins.

“This is going to be our year,” Comer said. “Because of western Kentucky and the two seats we’re going to pick up here, we’re going to make that change.”

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