Kentucky Dam Village – Both senate candidates dished up a healthy serving of politics with breakfast Thursday morning during their hour-long debate. Event Moderator Bill Bartleman says originally organizers thought they'd be hard pressed to get both candidates for a debate-style format, and planned on hosting a forum instead. However, after both candidates suggested debating, the format was changed. During the first half of the event, Bartleman asked both men questions on a variety of topics, including the increasingly unpopular Congress approved bailout package. Lunsford says congress members rushed the legislation so they could put it on their resumes as they ran for re-election.
"We're gonna trust this administration one more time. Trust it with no oversight. So from my standpoint we needed to set some rules should have taken longer. This was a big deal. 5 days, 5 days. This is a little how we handled the Iraq war in the Senate. We have to handle problems in the senate long term," Lunsford said.
McConnell says many notable politicians from would disagree with Lunsford's problems with the bill, including both presidential candidates, and that he's proud congress was able to work across the aisle together to save Main Street.
"On a bi-partisan basis the leaders of both parties stood up, put our country first, and said we were going to try to make a difference and to keep this problem from getting any worse. Will it prevent an economic slowdown? No, we are having an economic slowdown, everybody knows that, but doing nothing is not a plan," McConnell said.
After being asked to clarify his position, Lunsford said he would have voted against the rushed plan, and that it's not working because it wasn't well thought out. McConnell retorted that the government will be able to recover most of the 700 billon dollar bailout cost, and that Congress had to act to prevent the whole system from shutting down. Both men laid part of the blame on deregulation efforts of the opposing party. Lunsford says the reason the race is now so close is because people are tired of the status quo that's led them into hard times.
I've had people come up to me and start crying about how concerned they are. And yeah they're angry. They're angry because of the lack of leadership in Washington. They're angry because they believe the wealthy have been taken care of with policies that feed the greedy and starve the needy," Lunsford said.
McConnell says the only reason the race is closer than in years past is because he's now in a position of seniority.
And it makes you a bigger target. So you've seen a lot of ads of people trying to tear down my record by people from San Francisco and Chicago and New York around the country, aggressively trying to take me out because I stand for private sector solutions Mconnell said.
What makes McConnell more vulnerable to attacks is also what makes him the wisest choice for Kentuckians, he says. He says as Senate Minority leader, he's been able to bring $500 million dollars to the state this year alone- a figure someone with less influence would be hard pressed to bring home.
Does KY want to give up the kind of clout it has today that it's only had one other time in its history to replace me with a rookie who's only a few years younger than I am and who will never have a chance in the world of being able to deliver for the Commonwealth like I do on a yearly basis? McConnell said.
Lunsford says McConnell has used his seniority to create bad policies that don't benefit Kentuckians. He claims an independent study has found the actual amount of money the senator procured for Kentuckians is 127 million dollars, which amounts to 29 dollars and 90 cents. This amount is far outweighed by what taxpayers are paying for McConnell's bad decisions, he says.
The average Kentuckian's share of interest on the national debt is $1400, the average Kentuckian's share of the Iraq war is $2100. But what could really be important- good policy. If we had an energy policy that favored coal, if we had a tax policy that encouraged small businesses to develop, if we had incentives to give everybody reasonable cost health care- those things would be a whole lot more to every Kentuckian than 29.90, Lunsford said.
McConnell says the money he procures for projects in the Commonwealth is going to be spent, if not in Kentucky in another state that lobbies for it, and the state needs someone who realizes how important fighting for that funding is.
He wants to argue about whether it was this amount or that amount, regardless of which amount you choose, by any objective standard that's what I did. But I never miss an opportunity to advance the Commonwealth in any way that I can, and that frequently means funding. Whether it's the uranium enrichment plant, the economic development efforts in Murray-Calloway, and what he is telling you is that is somehow a waste of money, McConnell said.
Lunsford says it's more important than ever for Kentuckians to have someone in Washington that knows more about the real world than Capitol Hill, and he's the man for the job.
Senator McConnell takes great pride in the fact that he's a career politican. The Economy is clearly the number one issue. 70 percent of the people believe they have a chance to lose their job. And I believe that if we ever needed real world experience in the Senate, someone that can speak for what business is all about, it's now, Lunsford said.
Moderator Bill Bartleman says the debate drew a stark contrast between the two candidates in an increasingly tight race.
I think it probably is a close race, it's probably somewhere around 4 to 3 percent, and with a margin of error, it's a dead heat. I won't say it's going to decide the election but I it's gonna have some influence and help both candidates in some way, Bartleman said.
Both candidates will keep campaigning throughout the state until Election Day, with McConnell continuing his 62-stop bus tour. After receiving an endorsement from former President Bill Clinton today in Paducah, Lunsford will continue canvassing the Commonwealth, in hopes of winning over enough voters before November 4th.