Tonight the good people of Kentucky were given their one and only chance to see the two candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat in the Commonwealth square off against each other in a debate. Both Alison Lundergan Grimes and Sen. Mitch McConnell gave uneven performances, but for different reasons.
Grimes, the Democrat, hasn’t been in a race of this magnitude or had to provide answers off-the-cuff against a Washington veteran like the incumbent. She is not the smoothest public speaker, and it doesn’t help that she is running as a Democrat in a red state, where she must word her answers very carefully in order to not sound too left or right. It is a delicate balance, but she does seem genuine. Whereas McConnell has been at this for 30-years. The senator makes his answers difficult and deceptive on purpose.
Looking at the performance of both candidates objectively, I would give Grimes an easy victory tonight on points. Not a knockout by any means, but Grimes was the aggressor throughout the evening. She jabbed McConnell consistently, was prepared, never became rattled and counter-punched the senior senator whenever he did manage a good shot.
The problem for McConnell is he has an extensive public record and that is hard to escape. At this point there are enough statements made by the senator himself that no one has to guess what his intentions might be. Since President Obama took office McConnell has been the obstructionist-in-chief. He is the ringleader of partisan politics. That is a heavy crown to wear.
McConnell is on record stating it is not his job to find employment opportunities for Kentuckians. There is not a lot of wiggle room left for interpretation in that statement, and it made his declaration during the debate that “jobs” would be his top priority impossible to believe. In fact what stood out tonight was McConnell’s refusal to offer “anything” he currently supports or recommends that would be a game-changer in terms of improving life for those living in Kentucky. He talks about this war on coal, but let’s be honest, that industry is dying and it isn’t coming back.
Retraining former coal miners and getting them back in the labor force is the way to go, but supporting the continued flogging of a dead horse isn’t an enlightened thought. It’s also disingenuous to criticize the slow economic recovery in America, while being in office under a Republican Administration that ran the economy into the ground and not drawing the parallel. Lest we forget, as Grimes pointed out, it was the Republicans that designed and implemented two wars under Bush that were completely funded by deficit spending, along with tossing in a couple tax cuts that really added to the deficit. It’s an inconvenient truth for Republicans, but a fact, and their economic ponzi scheme came crumbling down by 2008.
McConnell is right, this race is about the next six years and who will do the best job for Kentucky. Of course McConnell is in position as Senate Minority Leader to have great influence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he would wield it for Kentucky’s benefit. McConnell also is correct that the economy has been less than robust, but I heard not one solution from the man for how he would improve that situation.
I don’t see with McConnell’s obstructionist past, statement about it not being his job to bring employment opportunities to Kentucky, and zero suggestions for how he might improve anything, how he possibly deserves another term, regardless of his potential influence.
At least Grimes is trying. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why McConnell has no suggestions for how to fix any of our current problems – because he represents the top 1 percent of wage earners in American, and those are the only people who got richer during the last recession.
McConnell’s sponsors don’t want anything fixed. They’re positioned to continue growing their earnings if things don’t improve. So providing affordable health insurance to over 500,000 Kentuckians is not something that excites McConnell’s backers. His buddies in the insurance industry would prefer to still be able to exclude coverage from those with pre-existing conditions or charge them substantially more, because the old way of doing health care made them all wealthier – but here in Kentucky, kynect has made a huge difference in peoples’ lives. It has allowed sick people to go to the doctor and get better. There is nothing sinister about that, and Sen. McConnell still has no answer for how he would replace the coverage these people now have if the Affordable Care Act was repealed as McConnell suggests.
Question: How would you vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act?
Alison Grimes: “Well I have said that this is a matter of standing up for 500,000 Kentuckians, over half a million Kentuckians. There’s work that we have to do to fix the Affordable Care Act, but we have to have a senator that actually realizes what the realities are here in Kentucky, and the fictional fantasyland that Mitch McConnell is in, it doesn’t show the statistics that are here in this state. We have over half a million Kentuckians who for the first time ever are filling prescriptions, they are going to the doctor, they’re getting checkups; I will not be a senator that rips that insurance from their hands.”
Sen. McConnell what do you think about increasing the minimum wage? Nope, it will cost jobs.
How about student loan reform? No need, it’s Obama’s fault the economy isn’t working.
Well what about equal pay for equal work? That was passed back in the 60s, women make pretty close to the same dollar as men do.
Climate change? Ridiculous, let’s fire up another antiquated coal plant.
Okay, health care reform, I mean we do have 40 million Americans that were lacking health insurance prior to the Affordable Care Act coming on line? They can keep the website up if they like but I’d pull the funding from the program that is covering the health care of over 500,000 Kentuckians. They don’t “really” need it.
There seems to be a trend building here. As Alison Grimes so eloquently stated to Sen. McConnell, “You are consistently against helping people here in Kentucky earn a living wage.” That is how the U.S. Senate debate went tonight in Kentucky. I’m not sure which alternate planet it is Mitch McConnell lives on, but he sure got “rimracked” this evening.