Primary Update: McConnell touts support from vets; Bevin officially files to challenge McConnell

11/15/2013 04:33 PM

U.S. Senate candidates were busy promoting themselves Friday with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell enlisting the support of military veterans in Louisville and primary challenger Matt Bevin officially filing to take on McConnell in the May 20 primary.

McConnell spoke to a group of his supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in a room decorated with American flags and ‘Veterans for Team Mitch’ signs.

Two retired service members — Col. William Betson and Brigadier Gen. Norman Arflack — praised McConnell for his time in the Senate, including his work with the Wounded Warriors Project and support of the Iraq troop surge in 2007.

“We’ve got 335,000 veterans in our state. On a per-capita basis we’d have to be one of the most significant states in term of the numbers of Kentuckians who have chosen to serve their country,” McConnell said.

McConnell also offered a 30-second summary of his view of the United States’ role in the world — a Reader’s Digest version of the McConnell doctrine.

“When America does not lead that vacuum gets filled by someone else. America plays an indispensable role in the world,” McConnell said. “Just watch any conflict that bubbles up anywhere in the world the first thing combatants say is can the Americans come in here and help us figure out how to get out of this? Not necessarily with the insertion of our troops, but because American leadership is indispensable “

McConnell later clarified to Pure Politics that leadership can be accomplished through trade and negotiations.

The campaign for Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes issued a statement criticizing McConnell for votes against certain bills that included benefits for veterans, including a spending bill for 2014 that included funding for military construction and veterans affairs as well voting against a bill in September that would have created 20,000 jobs for veterans. They also pointed to the cuts through the sequester, which reduced federal spending across the board, and led to cut-backs at Fort Knox.

“Mitch McConnell has repeatedly abandoned the Commonwealth’s more than 350,000 veterans, and this is yet another desperate attempt to run from his disastrous record,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said. “As we’ve seen for the last 30 years, when Mitch McConnell wins, Kentucky’s veterans lose.”

Meanwhile, while Grimes continued to hit McConnell from the left, the thorn in McConnell’s right side made his candidacy official on Friday. Louisville businessman Matt Bevin filed paper work to challenge McConnell in the May 20 Republican primary.

After filing in Frankfort, Bevin told supporters and reporters that McConnell didn’t do enough to stop the Affordable Care Act. And he criticized McConnell for receiving $75,000 in campaign contributions from leaders of UnitedHealth Group — the conglomerate that owns the firm that built and manages the much-maligned federal health care website, as John Cheves of the Herald-Leader first reported Friday.

McConnell’s campaign responded to Bevin’s filing in a statement sent to Pure Politics.

“Matt is doing Barack Obama and the liberals in Washington a great service by trying to divide conservatives rather than focus on Alison Lundergan Grimes and the authors of Obamacare,” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said. “Perhaps that’s why he enlisted a Harry Reid supporter to sign his filing papers,” referencing former Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Forgy, who accompanied Bevin to file his candidacy papers.


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