Hillary Clinton, wrestling control of House from Democrats themes of RPK Lincoln Dinner

09/11/2016 12:15 AM

LEXINGTON — Republicans gleefully mocked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during red-meat speeches at the Kentucky GOP’s top fundraising dinner Saturday evening.

Gov. Matt Bevin opened his remarks at the Republican Party of Kentucky Lincoln Dinner by pulling four small, empty baskets from behind the lectern.

“Hillary Clinton, she wants some of you in this basket,” he said. “This, I think, is for the Islamophobes and xenophobes, this basket is for the racists and sexists, this basket is for those of you that are the homophobes, I guess, and then this basket is for the deplorables. Half of you are the deplorables.”

That was a reference to Clinton’s comments at a New York fundraiser on Friday that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables,” a remark she walked back the next day.

“You think about that kind of idiocy, you think about how ridiculous it is for somebody who wants to be the president of the United States describing a vast proportion of the voting population in such pejorative terms,” Bevin added. “We deserve better from top to bottom.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said those who have been satisfied with eight years under President Barack Obama should vote for Clinton on Nov. 8, “but if you think America can do better by taking a different direction, Donald Trump is the person we ought to be supporting.”

McConnell acknowledged the difficult electoral straits Senate Republicans face in retaining their 54-46 majority in the upper chamber, with GOP incumbents facing competitive races in states like Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

“When you say your prayers at night, not only pray for a Republican president who will take us in a different direction, but for a continued Republican majority in the U.S. Senate,” said McConnell, who is in his second year as majority leader following GOP gains in 2014.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, in a re-election battle against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, spent much of his speech to the 525 attendees sticking to a familiar topic: criticizing Clinton’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during her time as secretary of state.

The dinner’s keynote speakers were Mark ‘Oz’ Geist and John ‘Tig’ Tiegen, two former Marines on the Benghazi security team who have also been critical of Clinton’s handling of the siege.

The pair, who have endorsed Trump, retold their experiences from that night. U.S. Rep. Andy Barr said he will be campaigning with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who chairs the House Select Committee on Benghazi, in his re-election race against Democrat Nancy Jo Kemper.

“If I had been president, I would have relieved you of your office,” Paul said, referencing his comments to Clinton during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in 2013.

“Without question, by her dereliction of duty, by her lack of security, by her lack of wisdom, by her lack of judgment, it should forever preclude her from being president.”

After Geist recalled a mortar shelling that luckily ended before the building they were in toppled, he mused that “God has other plans for us.”

“And I think that’s to stop Hillary from getting elected,” he said.

Between jabs at Clinton, speakers also rallied the Republican audience to help put the House in GOP control for the first time in nearly a century.

“It’s kind of embarrassing that I’m the only southern senator in the Republican Party who can’t claim to have total control of the legislature,” McConnell said, “and we’re going to fix that this fall for this governor and this state, right?”

Bevin publicly thanked Republican fundraiser Jess Correll, co-founder and president of First Southern National Bank, and urged others to open their wallets and checkbooks for state House candidates, particularly those in eastern counties, and volunteer for campaigns.

“I’m asking you, please, with a sense of urgency, to step up and be engaged, to knock doors like you’ve never knocked doors, to make phone calls like you’ve never made phone calls,” the governor said. “You literally call RPK and ask for a list of 100 names of people that you can call in the days prior to the election.”

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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