TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

August 12, 2010

Sen. McConnell makes London visit

Tells Chamber of Commerce crowd he expects ‘mid-term correction’ in fall elections

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell Wednesday told about 65 attending a combined Southern Kentucky and London/Laurel County Chamber of Commerce meeting he expects “a mid-term correction” in this fall’s elections.

But he wouldn’t comment on controversies which continue to dog Republican Senate candidate Dr. Rand Paul, declining to answer repeated questions on the matter.

GQ Magazine’s website reported earlier this week that an unidentified woman, who knew Paul during their college days at Baylor University, accusing Paul and a friend of blindfolding her, trying to get her to smoke marijuana and demanding she worshipp the god “Aqua-Buddha,” apparently part of a college prank. GQ quoted the woman as saying she never felt in danger but it was kind of sadistic. Paul denied he has ever blindfolded anyone or forced them to take drugs but otherwise has refused to comment further.

Then Paul said on a Fox News broadcast that politicians who speak at the annual Fancy Farm picnic — as Paul did last Saturday — fear having beer tossed on them. Organizers of the event demanded an apology and the Associated Press reported Wednesday that Paul apologized.

When McConnell was asked about the controversies he said, “Look this election is going to be about too much spending, too much borrowing, too many Washington takeovers and raising taxes in the middle of a recession. As far as I’m concerned there are no other issues in the race.”

McConnell said that’s all he plans to talk bout during the fall election and “that’s all (Paul) ought to be talking about.” He declined to answer subsequent questions about the matter.

But McConnell told the chamber group at the London-Corbin Airport that he expects Paul to win and said he expects Republicans to pick up seats in both the Senate and the House. He said it might be a stretch to predict Republicans can take control of either chamber — he rates his party’s chances higher in the House than in the Senate.

But McConnell said there will be “a shift” after this year’s elections though he couldn’t say how large. “The country has taken a look at the first 18 months (of Barack Obama’s administration) and they’ve concluded we’re on the wrong path.”

If Republicans get “close to 50” in the Senate they can “actually change the direction of this administration.” If Republicans take control of the House or achieve close to 50 votes in the Senate, McConnell said they can significantly change the course of spending by the federal government.

He suggested the way to start is to freeze spending at last year’s levels — if that were done over a 10-year period, he said, the “savings would be a $300 billion — with a B — and that’s not an insignificant amount of money.” He said he’s hopeful a defict reduction commission will offer recommendations on spending and the deficit by its Dec. 1 deadline, saying Republicans are prepared to act on those recommendations quickly.

He said the health care reform bill is the “worst piece of legislation I have ever seen pass the Congress” in his 25 years in the Senate. McConnell said the legislation is “about as popular as a sore throat” and given questions from his audience about repealing the law — something McConnell said will be difficult so long as Obama is president because of his veto power — that was true Wednesday.

There were no questions from the audience about about Paul. But Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson said Paul’s controversial statements concern some Republicans, though not likely enough to hurt him in the election. Still, Johnson said, it might help if Paul explained what happened during his days at Baylor.

But at a local restaurant — Burger Boy — Jacob Hackney, 69, said the controversy won’t have an impact — at least in his area of the state.

“That’s just the other side throwing stuff at him,” said Hackney, a registered Republican who supports Paul “The leftists will come up with anything the can create that they think will stick.”

But it won’t work, Hackney said. He said he agreed with statements Paul made shortly after his primary election win, statements in which Paul suggested private business owners ought legally to be able to choose whom to serve.

“You ought to have a right to run your own business,” Hackney said.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. He may be contacted by email at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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