The cheering out of the Bath County High School gym on Friday afternoon sounded like there was a nail-biter of a basketball game going on inside.
But, with former Vice President Joe Biden in town, it had nothing to do with athletics and everything to do with politics.
As Democratic Congressional candidate Amy McGrath introduced Biden, the crowd of about 2,000 cheered, a chant of “Amy, Amy, Amy” reaching into the rafters. Biden endorsed McGrath in May after the retired Marine fighter pilot won the Democratic primary. He was in Kentucky to help her across the finish line in an unexpectedly close race against incumbent-Republican Andy Barr.
The 19-county, 6th Congressional District race is considered one of the tightest in the country and healthcare is considered a critical issue. McGrath didn’t mention Barr by name. She did reference politicians who “have lost their courage to better the institutions that govern us because it’s easier politically to demonize the concept of government itself.” “It’s easier politically to demonize your opponent. I have chosen not to do that,” she said.
She also said that many members of Congress have forgotten who they represent.
“The halls of Congress right now are filled with too many politicians who don’t have the courage to stand up to special interests. Wall Street, Big Pharma, their donors, their political party,” she said.
Biden told the crowd that McGrath’s missions as a fighter pilot serve her well now. “I admire the heck out of what you’ve done Amy,” said Biden, to applause from the audience. “Eighty-nine combat missions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and now your 90th mission.”
He also praised McGrath’s character. “My mom used to say character is no one thing. Its a thousand little things done with consistency. Character is the single more important thing Amy brings to this race in my view.”
Biden, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2020, said the 6th District race is an important part of Democrats reclaiming the House.
With a majority in the House, Biden said, moderate Republicans would be more willing to cross the aisle on critical votes. That would lessen the growing partisan divide in the country, he said.
“If they get enough Democrats to produce a win, you will see a lot of Republicans join them,” he said.
He said the division in the country is “a battle for America’s soul.”
Check out videos of the event at Kentucky.com
Barr will have his own moment in the national spotlight Saturday when President Donald Trump holds a rally in Richmond. Public Safety officials are urging people attending to plan ahead. Information about parking, rules, Free Speech areas and more can be found at EKU’s website.