Some leftover notes from Saturday’s Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Louisville
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went off-script Saturday night when he praised Matt Bevin, the senator’s rival for the Republican nomination just a few weeks ago.
“We don’t own these seats,” McConnell said. “We don’t own the nomination, and we don’t own the general election. And none of us are above having competition and having to fight to represent our party in the general election.”
To that end, McConnell recognized Bevin and asked him to stand, telling the crowd that the Louisville businessman who garnered 35 percent of the GOP vote in the May 20 primary “made me a better candidate going into November.”
Bevin stood as the crowd applauded, but after the dinner, as he stood at the end of a small receiving line in the corner of the emptying ballroom, Bevin was not in the mood to talk about McConnell, or anything else, with the Herald-Leader.
A small but steady stream of people lined up to thank Bevin for running, offer condolences or words of encouragement. One man told Bevin that he was “sorry what happened happened, but…,” trailing off as he pointed to the “Team Mitch” sticker on his chest.
“You got battles to fight, brother,” Bevin replied.
When Bevin was asked whether he also had that battle to fight, or whether he might endorse McConnell, Bevin turned his back after responding: “I’m at a place where I’m talking to people.”
Rand Paul talks marijuana
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, in his remarks at the dinner, continued his call for reforming federal sentencing guidelines for drug-related crimes. Given the meager smattering of applause that greeted Paul when he changed the subject to criminal justice reform, the senator might have felt compelled to explain that he is no fan of marijuana use.
“I’m not saying any of this is good,” Paul said. “In fact, I think Colorado might have gone too far. I really think that drugs, even marijuana, they’re not benign drugs. They’re bad for our kids. People who use it all the time are wasting their lives; they’re never going to get ahead. But kids make mistakes.”
McConnell predicts Republican midterm ‘wave’
After being introduced at the dinner by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus as “the next majority leader of the United States Senate,” McConnell offered his usual cheery assessment of Republican hopes for taking back the upper chamber.
“We’re going to have a good election this year, we just don’t know how good yet,” McConnell said. “There’s going to be a wave. It may be a little wave, a medium-sized wave or a tsunami.”
The senator closed his remarks with what sounded like a new campaign refrain: “On Nov. 4, Kentucky will lead the Senate.”