Kentucky politicians bask in media glow at VP debate

jbrammer@herald-leader.comOctober 11, 2012 

DANVILLE — Nearly every major Kentucky politician basked in the media glow of the vice presidential debate Thursday at Centre College.

Each was more than eager to tout the party line and predict victory for his or her slate at the polls Nov. 6.

With about 3,000 journalists at Centre for the debate between Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, Kentucky politicians were busy pontificating throughout the day.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear started the day with a forum in which he predicted President Barack Obama would win in a squeaker.

Republican Mitt Romney has changed his tune too many times, Beshear said. The real Romney was the man who was secretly recorded deriding the 47 percent of Americans who allegedly don't pay taxes, he said.

Beshear was the final speaker at a Politico-sponsored debate preview forum at the Community Arts Center in downtown Danville.

He said Obama's poor standing in Kentucky, where Romney is expected to dominate, doesn't surprise him. "Kentucky has always been a schizophrenic state," he said.

Kentucky voted for Democrat Jimmy Carter, then later voted for Republican Ronald Reagan. But the state also voted overwhelmingly for Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Voters also have elected two conservative Republican senators — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul — but Democrats hold all but one state constitutional office.

McConnell, of Louisville, spent some time in the media center's spin room, doing interviews with various national news outlets.

He said the polls "are breaking" for Romney.

"No question that last week was a turning point for the Romney campaign," he said of the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney.

Paul, of Bowling Green, told Kentucky reporters that he does not think his criticism of portions of Romney's foreign policy will hurt the Republican nominee.

"I don't think many votes will be decided on foreign policy," he said. "The No. 1 problem is the national debt and how we deal with the budget."

On Wednesday, Paul told CNN he would campaign for Romney but disagreed with the nominee on his call for U.S. intervention in Syria.

"Romney chose to criticize President Obama for seeking to cut a bloated Defense Department and for not being bellicose enough in the Middle East, two assertions with which I cannot agree," Paul said.

Asked if he hopes to be in a presidential debate four years from now, Paul laughed and said, "Too soon to know that."

Paul also said his political action committee, Rand Pac, is spending about $500,000 for TV ads to support candidates in several states who want to cut U.S. foreign aid.

He said they are targeting Senate Democrats who voted against his amendment to block U.S. aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya. He acknowledged that McConnell also voted against his amendment but did not elaborate.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, showed up at the media center to predict that Biden's debate performance would re-energize the Democratic base and highlight the "dangerous" aspects of Ryan's federal budget proposal.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said Biden would be "the fact-checker" in the debate.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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