Kentucky Politics

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the Republican National Convention on Thursday, urging voters to reelect Republicans to the Senate and send President Donald Trump back to the White House.

In taped remarks from Kentucky, McConnell said that as the leader of the Senate, he considers it his responsibility to “look out for middle America.”

“Today’s Democrat party doesn’t want to improve life for middle America. They’d prefer that all of us in flyover country keep quiet and let them decide how we should live our lives,” McConnell said.

First elected in 1984, McConnell is running for his seventh term in office. His Democratic challenger this year is retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who has been running a well-funded campaign trying to unite Democrats and pick off some Republican voters who have grown dissatisfied with McConnell.

Polling in the race has been erratic— earlier this month, one poll showed McGrath 17 percentage points behind McConnell, another showed her trailing by 5 points.

McConnell’s record is closely tied to Trump after he refused to consider former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016, effectively making the vacancy a campaign issue.

During his remarks on Thursday, McConnell presented a litany of supposed Democratic priorities that he has been able to block in the Republican-led Senate, from “taxing your job out of existence” to telling people “how many hamburgers you can eat.”

“We are the firewall against Nancy Pelosi’s agenda. Like President Trump, we won’t be bullied by a liberal media intent on destroying America’s institutions,” McConnell said.

McGrath issued a statement shortly before McConnell’s speech, criticizing him for not passing a new coronavirus relief bill before the Senate adjourned for its August recess.

“He’s halfway through a 25-day vacation. Meanwhile, small businesses are waiting. Parents, teachers, and students are waiting. Postal workers are waiting. The millions of people who are out of work across the country are waiting. They’re all wondering if they’ll ever get any help from the United States Senate,” McGrath wrote.

The Senate is scheduled to return from its recess on Sept. 8.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.