LOUISVILLE — After sending two nondescript media advisories touting an impending announcement Monday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin pledged to unveil a comprehensive jobs plan — but not until a Thursday campaign stop in Hazard.
With scant details on his proposal, Bevin pleaded with media gathered at his Louisville campaign headquarters to focus its coverage of the U.S. Senate race on the national economy and job creation. He then brought his attention to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign tactics, calling the Senate minority leader a “coward” and a “liar.”
Bevin, who trails McConnell by double digits with three weeks until the May 20 primary, said the incumbent “seems to be focused on one job and one job only, and that’s keeping his own.”
He repeatedly said he is the only candidate who has created jobs in the private sector, and that improving the economy should be the issue front and center in the election debate.
“While he’s (McConnell) fiddling away, Rome is burning. We can’t afford it anymore. We really can’t,” Bevin said. “I’m begging those of you in the media to appreciate the fact this is not a game. It’s fun for the snark, it’s fun to have the banter back and forth, but what is at stake is significant.”
Bevin also took aim at comments from McConnell that appeared in the Beattyville Enterprise Thursday, in which the senator was quoted saying, “Economic development is a Frankfort issue. That is not my job.”
McConnell’s campaign dismissed the report, saying his words were “lost in translation.” It later sent a report from the Los Angeles Times on McConnell’s remarks at four stops last week in Eastern Kentucky, including Beattyville, about how the senator’s standing in Washington would help the region’s economy.
Democratic frontrunner Alison Lundergan Grimes latched onto McConnell’s remarks to the Beattyville Enterprise last week, as did Bevin Monday.
“The reason his comments got lost in translation is he doesn’t speak our language,” Bevin said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Bevin then took aim at McConnell’s campaign tactics, saying the senator has called his former high school classmates digging for dirt. Bevin said he had a voicemail from someone recently who said he’d been called by McConnell’s camp to appear in a video and “paint a false narrative about something that was absolutely a 100 percent lie.”
The challenger also said he’d been recruited by McConnell to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, and McConnell would “do anything to maintain the power that he has.”
“This thing is an absolute sham, and to the degree that you all buy it, shame on you because I’ll tell you if you don’t appreciate the fact that people lie in political campaigns for personal interests, then clearly you haven’t been paying attention,” Bevin said to reporters.
McConnell’s campaign, however, has repeatedly painted Bevin as a dishonest candidate.
For instance, he initially denied speaking at a Corbin cockfighting rally last month, calling the gathering a “states’ rights” rally, but was forced to issue an apology Friday after WAVE-TV revealed a hidden-camera video showing Bevin directly answering a question regarding cockfighting at the event.
“Matt Bevin has demonstrated a profound lack of respect for all of us in Kentucky and it’s downright offensive that he thinks he can just continue lying to our face,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement. “It says a lot about the character of a person when he’s caught intentionally deceiving Kentuckians and instead of admitting his mistakes, he attacks everyone else for the state of his candidacy.”