Politics & Government

Matt Bevin's remarks on drug-testing Medicare recipients gets attention of national Democrats

With platoons of Republicans running for president, the Democratic National Committee has had too much on its plate to spend much time commenting on Kentucky's gubernatorial race.

At least until Tuesday.

During a debate between Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway at Centre College, Conway asked Bevin about his statement from April that recipients of Medicaid and Medicare should be drug-tested.

In April, Bevin said during a Louisville Tea Party forum that he supports random drug testing for recipients of both programs.

"I firmly believe we frankly should drug test people that are on Medicaid and Medicare," Bevin said at the time. "We just should."

During Tuesday night's debate, Bevin didn't back away from that call, saying "there should be expectation of you as somebody who is a recipient, or, as it's often referred to in this state, on the draw."

Conway interrupted Bevin to make clear that he was asking about Medicare and not Medicaid, to which Bevin responded: "Understood." Despite that, Bevin later argued that he was talking about Medicaid.

With four weeks to go, reports show Conway with $2.3 million and Bevin with $670,000

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/10/07/4076463/with-four-weeks-to-go-conway-has.html#storylink=cpy

Conway's campaign thought that Bevin had committed a major gaffe, especially in a debate hosted by the AARP, and national Democrats seemed to agree.

With the subject line "WOW. This is a new one," a DNC email sent to reporters early Wednesday afternoon said that presidential candidate and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has endorsed Bevin and questioned whether Paul agrees with Bevin. Paul's campaign aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz put out a statement on the exchange.

"Over the years, I've witnessed countless attempts by Republicans to shred the social safety net, but I have to admit that supporting drug testing Medicare recipients is a new low," Wasserman Schultz said. She and other Democrats said Medicare benefits are paid to seniors who paid into the program while they were working.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said Wednesday night that "Matt does not support drug testing for Medicare recipients," adding that "what he said in April was a misstatement."