Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Mitch McConnell’

Bill Clinton Comes to Kentucky

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Many pundits and journalists have declared this year’s U.S. Senate race in Kentucky to be the contest to watch this year. The contenders, Republican incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin, and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, frequently garner national media headlines.

The race was in the spotlight again yesterday as former President Bill Clinton attended a rally for Grimes in Louisville. I asked KET Associate Producer Ali Ord to cover the event, take a few pictures, and report on what she observed.

KET Associate Producer Ali Ord

KET Associate Producer Ali Ord

The luncheon was a fundraiser for Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State and candidate for the U.S. Senate. Local and national media as well as an over-flow crowd of well-wishers packed the room. Why? To hear former President Bill Clinton campaign for Grimes. No surprise there: Clinton is an old friend of Grimes’ father, long-time state Democratic operative Jerry Lundergan. Plus, the former president lives to campaign. “Getting Bill Clinton on the campaign trail is like force-feeding sugar to an ant,” joked former Clinton advisor Paul Begala. “You don’t have to ask him twice.”

Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for Alison Lundergan Grimes at a fundraising luncheon in Louisville.

Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes
at a fundraising luncheon in Louisville.

With guest speakers like a past president as well as Congressman John Yarmuth and Gov. Steve Beshear working to unseat Sen. McConnell, the race will definitely be exciting. I think the real question is who will McConnell bring in to campaign for him?

The stage at Louisville's Galt House Hotel for the Alison Lundergan Grimes rally.

The stage at Louisville’s Galt House Hotel for the Alison Lundergan Grimes rally.

As I made my way into the Galt House in Louisville to check-in before the event, I didn’t know what to except. The closest I have come to the Oval Office is co-producing coverage of the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate in Danville for WYMT-TV. I arrived at the Grimes fundraiser two hours early and it wasn’t long before the media began to file in, setting up camera positions, opening laptops, and preparing for the moment Clinton would enter the room. The audience seemed to enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunity to see the former president on a stage only a few feet away. If you care about politics, then your eyes are on this race – and the media is making it easy for us to follow it.

Media crews covering former President Bill Clinton at the fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Media crews covering former President Bill Clinton at the fundraiser
for Alison Lundergan Grimes.

At this event I saw representatives from MSNBC, CNN, ABC, and other networks, plus The New York Times and The Washington Post. Sam Youngman, who is covering the race for the Lexington Herald-Leader, said Tuesday’s turnout by the media was, “A pretty strong showing by the national press this early in the year. There’s obviously a lot of curiosity about the race and the Grimes campaign, and, of course, Bill Clinton, arguably the best campaigner of modern times, always draws a crowd.”

Former President Bill Clinton greets attendees and signs autographs at a fundraising event for Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Former President Bill Clinton greets rally attendees and signs autographs.

This is an important race for Kentucky and the nation. The polls show it to be close. We’ll keep our eyes on the candidates and the media covering the contest in the months ahead.

Key Issues in the 2014 Elections

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

If you had any doubts that the Affordable Care Act would be an issue in the 2014 elections, they were quickly put to rest during Monday’s edition of Kentucky Tonight. The discussion rapidly and repeatedly turned from next year’s races to health care, as members of our panel tried to see who could best defend the rollout of Obamacare or point out its flaws.

When we were able to talk about political campaigns, much of the discussion focused on what many pundits think will be the most-watched U.S. Senate race in 2014: the contest between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin.

During the program, Bill Garmer, the former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, questioned what Mitch McConnell stands for after three decades in the Senate. Tres Watson, chair of the Kentucky Young Republican Federation, challenged that statement by accusing President Obama of creating a “nanny” state in the nation – which opened the door to more conversation about Obamacare from Jennifer Moore, chair of Emerge Kentucky and a former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, and Nathan Haney, chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party. Here’s a look at that portion of the show:

Everyone agreed that coal would be a significant issue in the Senate race, with McConnell and Grimes having to explain their positions on mining as well as on diversification efforts in and economic aid to eastern Kentucky. Fundraising will also be critical, both in terms of the money the candidates will need to raise for their campaigns, and Sen. McConnell’s ongoing efforts to eliminate limits on political contributions.

In the closing minutes of the program, we touched on next month’s special election to fill the state house seat recently vacated by John Arnold. Two female candidates are competing in that western Kentucky contest: Republican Suzanne Miles and Democrat Kim Humphrey.

And we discussed the prospects of first-time Representative Andy Barr winning re-election in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District. You can watch the full program on our website.

Gergen on Washington Politics

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

David Gergen is someone you’d like to meet early in the morning for coffee – and then spend all day talking with him. His stories about working in the White House and his insights on today’s political scene are fascinating.

Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN, and his commentary draws upon his vast experience working in the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. In fact, he was a 27-year-old employee in the White House communications office when he was given the task of writing Nixon’s resignation letter. As challenging as that may seem, Gergen says it wasn’t that complicated. You can hear him tell the story in our conversation on One to One, Sunday at 1 p.m. on KET.

Gergen is also Professor of Public Service and Director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He loves working with young people and speaks fondly about their passion for the future of America.

I talked with Gergen during his recent visit to Louisville. He enjoys learning about local political races and is interested in Kentucky’s 2014 Senate race. We talked about incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell’s role in Washington and his prospects for re-election.

McConnell and fellow Senatorial candidates Matt Bevin, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and Ed Marksberry are among the politicians appearing at this year’s Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County. Renee Shaw and I will anchor live coverage of the speeches this Saturday starting at 2:30 p.m. on KET and online at I hope you can join us.

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