Political observers offer their views on how presidential candidates' messaging will play in Kentucky

08/05/2016 03:52 PM

The speaker’s lineup is set and barbecue is in the pits at Fancy Farm the day before the annual political event in far western Kentucky.

Les Fugate, executive vice president of RunSwitch PR, and Jared Smith, president of Smith Strategies, recently sat down with Pure Politics to talk about the national implications of Fancy Farm and their most memorable moments from the picnic.

This presidential cycle features two nominees with the highest unfavorables in recent history, but conventional wisdom puts GOP nominee Donald Trump in the driver’s seat for Kentucky’s eight electoral votes.

The last Democratic presidential candidate to win the Bluegrass was ex-President Bill Clinton, husband of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has been hammered on numerous fronts by Republicans this election season, including her decision to use a private email server during her time as U.S. secretary of state as well as her handling of terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Her performance in Kentucky’s May 17 primary — squeaking through with a 0.43 percent margin over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — also greatly lagged her 35-point victory against President Barack Obama in 2008.

Fugate said Clinton’s remarks from March on shuttering coal mines affected her support among Kentuckians.

“I think that’s her challenge, and I don’t know what the answer is,” he said. “I don’t know how you overcome that, but it poses a major problem for her in trying to get votes in Kentucky.”

Trump has proven one of the most unconventional candidates in modern history, taking on subjects that have earned him criticism from fellow Republicans. On the heels of the Democratic National Convention, for example, Trump lashed out at the parents of a deceased Muslim Army captain killed in Iraq after they challenged his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants on the DNC stage.

But while Republicans have often countered the New York real estate mogul’s comments, they haven’t withdrawn their support from their presidential nominee.

Part of Trump’s appeal is his questioning of the trajectory of the U.S, but the GOP nominee has erred in making himself a single-source solution for the country’s woes, Smith said.

“The presidency is not a one-man job by any stretch of the imagination,” Smith said. “… His message may be right, but he’s not the right person to elect and to lead, and I think people are starting to see that.”

Find out more on Smith’s and Fugate’s views on both presidential campaigns and their appeal to Kentuckians as well as their most memorable moments at Fancy Farm in the video below:

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.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.

TWEETS ABOUT KENTUCKY POLITICS