In Democrat-heavy Frankfort, McConnell makes a case for himself as Kentucky's 21st century compromiser

03/27/2013 11:17 AM

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, left the red meat out of a luncheon speech in Kentucky’s Democratic-heavy capital city on Tuesday and instead played up his credentials as a force for compromise.

While McConnell’s remarks to the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce weren’t as partisan as his standard Lincoln Day Dinner speeches to Republican crowds, he has been stressing his leadership role in most speeches as he prepares to run for a sixth term in 2014.

His pitch to the crowd of local business leaders Tuesday was that he was one of few in Washington who could bring a deal on the big issues.

And McConnell’s brewing re-election campaign attracted the opposition outside the Capital Plaza Hotel in downtown Frankfort.

The garbled chants of protestors organized by the Super-PAC of Progress Kentucky were barely audible at the back of the hotel’s small conference room.

Shawn Reilly, executive director of Progress Kentucky, said the goal is to elect a new U.S. Senator to represent Kentucky.

“Citizens rallied because while Senator McConnell is telling Kentuckians how he’s working his heart out protecting us from Washington D.C., the truth is Kentucky doesn’t need McConnell’s protection from Washington, Kentucky needs protection from Mitch McConnell,” Reilly said in a statement.

McConnell seemed not to notice the disruption outside as he made the case that he has been a lynchpin on compromise negotiations which include significant deals on the fiscal cliff and the 2010 budget to avert a tax increase.

On the issues

After his speech, McConnell took questions from the audience and was pushed on where lawmakers should draw the line on guns that can fire hundreds of bullets.

McConnell said an assault weapons ban would not be effective, but allowing people with serious mental illnesses to get their hands on firearms needs a second look.

“It’s a perplexing issue we’ve tried weapons bans at one time or another in the past they haven’t worked by any objective standards,” McConnell said. “If you were going to pick out one thing and focus on it, and I’m not sure it can be done at the federal level is that people with serious mental incapacitates are committing these crimes.”

In response to a question about immigration, McConnell said while it is a complex issue, he wants to see a workplace verification component and enhanced border security.

The solvency of Mexico’s government also plays a key role in border relations, McConnell said. Lower unemployment rates and better overall conditions means less people from Mexico are attempting to immigrate.


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