LEXINGTON — He was speaking to only about 25 people, but Matt Bevin knew what to tell them on a cold, snowy night.
“David never has a chance until Goliath is on the ground,” Bevin told the small group who braved a cold and snowy night for a meeting of the Lexington Tea Party.
Bevin is attempting to play the part of David as he takes on five-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary.
Bevin told the group he has always voted for McConnell in the past because “I always thought he was the better choice. But I don’t think this time he is.”
Now, Bevin said, McConnell is so unpopular the only way he can win elections is to “to make people like me less popular than he is.”
He predicted McConnell will continue to attack him in advertising and will become “increasingly desperate” as time goes on.
He even pointed out two young people in the back of the room – trackers from the Republican Party or McConnell’s campaign who follow Bevin filming his speeches for possible use in future campaign ads.
One woman turned toward one of the cameras and said “bye-bye” and waved.
But the episode also indicates perhaps Bevin’s biggest problem – can he compete with McConnell on the airwaves and persuade enough voters he’s a preferable alternative to McConnell?
Bevin spoke for more than an hour, taking random questions and kept his audience’s rapt attention. But without the ability to get his message on the airwaves, can he reach enough voters to challenge McConnell, the Republican Leader of the Senate famous for his fundraising powers?
Kathy Gornik, a Lexington businesswoman, asked Bevin how the campaign is faring in organization and funding.
Bevin said his fundraising is going well with more than 13,000 individual donors from every county in the state and every state in the country. But he conceded his fundraising “will pale in comparison” to McConnell’s who “gets his $5,000 at a time.”
But, Bevin said, “we can do this” if people like those present Thursday evening still talk to “10, 20 or 25 people and get them out to vote.”
He said he’s been endorsed by national groups like the Madison Project and the Senate Conservatives Fund and by individuals like Eric Erickson of the conservative RedState blog and conservative broadcast personality Glenn Beck.
Afterward, Bevin said he’ll raise enough money to compete on the airwaves and to make sure voters know him. “We’ll be on television,” he said. “No one will go to the polls without being fully informed about the candidates in this race.”
Bevin said he is in the race because the country is on an unsustainable path financially and “we are mortgaging our children’s and grandchildren’s future.”
“We’re putting lien after lien on their futures and their ability to earn a livelihood and frankly, that’s why I’m in this race,” Bevin said.
Bevin spent most of his time answering questions, assuring the conservative group he supports gun ownership, opposes the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” and promised to uphold the constitution’s founding principles.
Bevin said the country is in need of people “with real life experience” in creating jobs and building businesses and said his race against McConnell “is literally for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” contending today’s party leaders don’t represent the party’s founding principles.
But Bevin answered a question about a third party by saying he is a lifelong Republican and “heaven help us” if presumptive Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes is elected in the general election.
Later Bevin was asked if that represented an endorsement of McConnell should he prevail. He repeated his earlier answer: “I’m a lifelong Republican and I’ve always voted that way and I don’t see that changing anytime in the future.”