After perhaps the strangest opening 24 hours of a campaign we’ve ever seen — Grimes’ rollout inexplicably wasting the opportunity to raise boatloads of money and exposure, and McConnell’s WTF autotune video — Sen. Mitch McConnell visited Louisville today to celebrate the next phase of construction for The Parklands at Floyd’s Fork.
As the speakers at the event explained, McConnell was the key player in steering $38 million in federal funds to the project — back when the Republicans had total control of the federal government and the exploding federal debt at the time was less of a concern to them. In fact, a touching anecdote was shared about how they asked McConnell for $10 million, but he was able to instead steer $38 million their way. McConnell’s main talking point when he ran in 2008 was his “clout” in steering federal pork to Kentucky, but since the birth of the Tea Party — and his party’s loss of power in the White House and Senate — he’s suddenly become a deficit hawk who labels just about all federal spending as irresponsibly “borrowing money from China,” citing the federal debt that he and his party played a large role in creating during the Bush years.
McConnell took a break from digging up dirt on his opponents to shovel up some dirt for a photo op, heralding what federal spending can do to create jobs, improve the community and help the environment. It was just like old times. He then took questions from the press for a few minutes afterwards, as you can see below:
LEO asked McConnell if we could afford such federal spending on bike ramps at 1:09, and he responded by saying “back in 2005, we were in a very good position to fund this project,” which he says is “a gift to the city.” Those were the days.
Asked about Grimes’ challenge, McConnell repeatedly touted his “influence” in the Senate, and what he could do for Kentucky. No examples were given, but I suppose Mitch has 16 months to come up with something besides the pork that he used to love bringing home before it stopped being cool among the Tea People.
Joe Arnold then asked McConnell about the demographic difference between he and Grimes, eliciting this uncomfortable response:
Arnold: Given the demographic difference between you and Ms. Grimes, in terms of her age versus yours, as well as the fact that she’s already highlighted that she’s a woman… brought up like the Violence Against Women Act… How will you counter that?
McConnell: Well as Ronald Reagan famously said once, I won’t use my opponent’s youth and inexperience as an issue in this campaign.
Arnold: What about women’s issues?
McConnell: (awkward silence)
It’s a shame McConnell passed up that opportunity to brag about why he voted against the Violence Against Women Act and Lilly Ledbetter. But hey, it’s a long campaign and we’re sure he’ll get the opportunity to do so eventually.
LEO asked Tea Party guru David Adams what he thought about McConnell’s answer on the federal spending his “influence” brought home to Kentucky:
“Surely Mitch didn’t mean to say we were in a ‘very good position’ to waste federal funds in 2005, because that is in large part why we don’t have it to waste now. Pork is pork, regardless of whether it is spent to promote a Republican politician or a Democratic one. Sen. McConnell is like an aging athlete who can’t see the world has changed and his time is past. He needs to get out of the race now so the rest of us can get to work cleaning up the mess he helped make without also having to jump over him.”
Adams claims that he has a Tea Party candidate waiting in the winds to challenge McConnell from his right flank. We would assume that this candidate will also tout McConnell’s “influence.”