Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Amy McGrath discussed the federal response to the coronavirus crisis, the Supreme Court nomination battle, and the Republican incumbent’s decade-long record in a highly competitive televised debate in Kentucky on Monday night.
McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, was aggressive from the start when he blamed the Senator for the lack of another round of state relief for a pandemic-ridden economy in what was termed “neglect of duty”. McConnell blamed the Congress Democrats for the stalled negotiations.
In a snappy exchange later, McConnell, touting his Senate leadership position as a valuable asset to Kentucky, shot back at McGrath̵
McGrath replied, “Senator, you’ve been there for 36 years. How is it, Kentucky? “She pointed to the persistently high rates of cancer and diabetes in the state, along with the lack of broadband access and well-paying jobs in some parts of the state.
McConnell countered that he delivered billions of dollars in federal funds that McGrath couldn’t replicate if she replaced him, and that he is taking her place as a freshman in the “back seat” in the Senate.
The debate offered McGrath her best chance for a breakthrough against McConnell, who has long dominated Kentucky’s political landscape and has consistently topped the polls in its quest for a seventh term. It was her first and possibly only faceoff of the campaign. The personal early voting begins Tuesday, and many Kentuckians are already filling out postal ballot papers.
The debate comes at a crucial time for McConnell, who is running his own race while focusing on keeping his job as majority leader while the GOP struggles to keep control of the Senate.
When asked about the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak, McGrath gave President Donald Trump and Congress an “F” before turning to McConnell.
“Its only job is to help America pass laws to keep our economy alive so people can make ends meet,” she said. “And instead of doing that, he’s trying to ram through a Supreme Court candidate instead of negotiating what he should have been doing all summer to make it happen.”
For his part, McConnell said he offered another coronavirus relief bill about a month ago, which stalled when it found no Democratic support in the Senate.
“I think they don’t want a solution before the elections,” he said of Congress Democrats.
Kentucky’s rivals have been grappling with the Washington Supreme Court nomination battle. Candidate Amy Coney Barrett presented Monday at the start of hearings confirming her approach to the law as conservative and fair, while angry Democrats who couldn’t stop her viewed her as a threat to Americans’ health insurance during the pandemic.
McGrath said there shouldn’t be a vote to fill a Supreme Court post so close to the election, criticizing what she viewed as McConnell’s inconsistency on the matter. Four years ago, McConnell blocked then-President Barack Obama’s election of Judge Merrick Garland to fill another Supreme Court position in a presidential election year.
“Look, four years ago during an election year under the McConnell Rule, Senator McConnell said,” We don’t vote on a candidate, let the people decide, “said McGrath.” Well, now, 22 days before an election, should we let the people decide. “
McConnell, who leads the fast-track verification process for Barrett, called her an “exceptional candidate” and an “accomplished scholar.”
The hour-long debate was broadcast on the Kentucky-based Gray Television channels. It came towards the end of a high-spending campaign carried out remotely, with the two competing against each other in highly competitive television commercials.
The rivals were arguing at WKYT, and Lexington station was taking a number of precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus. Kentucky is in the midst of yet another surge in COVID-19 cases.