Fancy Farm speeches offer lots of jabs but not much news

08/07/2010 08:42 PM

FANCY FARM — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway used his speech at Saturday’s Fancy Farm picnic to engage supporters, while Republican candidate Rand Paul largely ignored the crowd and clung to his standard message of shrinking government and the debt.

And both candidates relied on a couple of their biggest names — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell — to make their cases.

No one made a major gaffe, although Republicans repeatedly referenced Conway’s much maligned “tough son of a bitch” line from Fancy Farm 2009.

And none of the speakers made any announcements or strayed too far from their respective partisan messages.

Beshear perhaps offered the strongest Fancy Farm-type remarks of the day, despite stumbling over a couple words.

After leading off with his case for re-election next year, Beshear launched into a fiery campaign speech in support of Conway, the Kentucky attorney general. Take a look:

McConnell mentioned President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as often as he dropped Conway and Paul’s names. Unlike other Republicans, though, McConnell didn’t mention his Senate colleague, Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada.

McConnell, a Fancy Farm veteran, gave a solid speech with several clever lines, including a reference to Conway’s 2009 by saying that “we’re on a seven second delay.” But McConnell didn’t engage in the type of Fancy Farm pageantry or interplay with the crowd the way he has done during past events. For instance, in 2003 when McConnell was fighting hard to get Ernie Fletcher elected as the first Republican governor in 32 years, it was McConnell’s speech that introduced the seven dwarves to paint Fletcher’s Democratic opponent, Ben Chandler, as “Dopey” and “Sleepy.”

Here’s what he did say this time:

Conway, meanwhile, dished it right back. He even included a reference to McConnell, who backed Secretary of State Trey Grayson against Paul during the Republican primary campaign.

Conway did not stray from his script and an organized corps of supporters chimed in with the chorus of “accidents happen” to punctuate his points.

Unlike candidates who craft specific remarks to harness the unique energy and atmosphere of Fancy Farm, what Paul talked about was no different than his standard stump speech.

Paul, who has been railing against government spending and inefficiencies, opened his speech by outlining how cumbersome the tax code is. He then said that the federal government must get shaken up.

“Washington needs reform from top to bottom,” Paul said, prompting applause from many including McConnell, who has been in the Senate since 1984.

- Reporting by Ryan Alessi and Kenny Colston, video produced by Chris Bratton and Don Weber


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