LOUISVILLE — It was supposed to be about Mitch McConnell and, in the end, it was.
But the statewide Republican Lincoln Day Dinner here Saturday night started out as much about 2016 and Rand Paul as about McConnell’s race this fall against Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
However, in the end, McConnell delivered the message he wanted to deliver to the 600 or so faithful here.
“We’re here tonight, friends, because our country is in trouble,” McConnell said, proceeding to lay at President Barack Obama’s feet all the country’s problems, including the “tepid” economic recovery; claiming Obama has used the IRS to intimidate people; and created a scandal at the Veterans’ Administration.
Kentucky, he said, has been particularly hard hit by the president’s policies. He began with Obamacare, although Kentucky is viewed nationally as one of the success stories of the Affordable Care Act.
“And then, of course, there’s the war on coal,” McConnell said. “It’s a dismal picture that’s created by this administration that doesn’t care about us.”
He scoffed that U.S. action on carbon emissions will have any effect on the warming global climate. But the newly proposed regulations, McConnell said, will further destroy the coal industry in Kentucky. He didn’t quite say so, but he came pretty close to suggesting Obama is destroying the country as well as Kentucky.
“If you agree with Rand Paul and me that we need to go in a different direction, what is the only thing we can do in 2014?” McConnell asked. “The only thing we can do in 2014 is to change the Senate and to change the country.”
He went on to list those states where Republicans have hopes of capturing Senate seats from Democratic incumbents and described the party’s chances of taking over the Senate as “pretty good.”