Saying the Republican Party needs to adopt a new vision, U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin is hoping to shift Kentucky’s race to issues, rather than surface-level politics and attacks.
The Tea Party-backed Bevin has often given speeches focusing on policy, and he decried Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes for failing to discuss them in-depth.
“The sad truth is that while this campaign has been going on we have been speaking in-dept about the issues that truly matter as we travel around the state. But both Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes have been avoiding the issues that are before us,” says Bevin.
“These are serious issues and these are serious times, and yet both of my opponents in this race are acting like this is a race for 8th grade class president, not for U.S. Senate representing Kentucky. We need to elevate the tenor of this campaign”
Perhaps underscoring Bevin’s point, the McConnell campaign preempted his policy speech Thursday morning with a video making fun of their primary opponent.
Bevin says he differs from McConnell most on government spending, financial policy and ways to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Those in attendance railed against McConnell’s vote for the TARP bailout in 2008, for instance.
McConnell has been one of the leading critics of the president’s health care law, however. Just recently the GOP leader proposed an amendment to the unemployment insurance bill to delay the individual mandate by one year.
Bevin’s campaign argues that isn’t enough and that McConnell failed to support Tea Party-leaning senators such as Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah who sought to de-fund the law last year. In fact, many conservative activists at Bevin’s campaign events noted reports of McConnell working against Cruz during the lead up to the government shutdown.
In terms of reforming the country’s health care system Bevin favors tort reform and allowing citizen to purchase insurance plans across state lines. He supports a permanent ban on earmarks and backs the REINS Act, which would give Congress the authority to overturn regulations costing over $100 million.
The Louisville businessman also opposes the National Security Agency’s collection of phone data, saying it is time to end “warrantless wiretapping” on law-abiding citizens.
McConnell and Bevin do have similar views on some issues such as their support of the coal industry and criticism of the Obama administration’s environmental regulations.
Much like the argument against Grimes, the senator’s team says this comes down to who can maneuver for Kentucky best in Washington. When confronted with what he would do differently, Bevin says McConnell has changed and has become ineffectual as a conservative leader.
“The difference is some people just talk and some people will actually act,” he says. “Mitch McConnell has 30 years of talking a big game, but the proof is in the pudding. I ask the voters of Kentucky to take a hard look at whether or not his talk has actually translated into much action.”
Just this week, however, the president of the Kentucky Coal Association credited McConnell’s leadership with helping the struggling industry. And McConnell’s office points out the senator played a role in helping a state group apply for the Obama administration’s “Promised Zones” program.
But Bevin maintains if elected he can accomplish things McConnell cannot by standing up rather than cutting deals.
“I don’t question the sincerity with which (McConnell) initially went to Washington. I’ve always voted for him in the past. I’ve always felt he was the better choice,” he says. “I no longer think that he represents the people of Kentucky. He now just talks in a way that he thinks will allow him to get re-elected. He doesn’t seem to care or even know what it is what we care about here in Kentucky.”
Read Bevin’s full speech here: