The 134th annual Fancy Farm Picnic was held in Kentucky yesterday, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes squared off to deliver insults and one liners to a lively crowd of partisans.
The picnic is a real piece of Americana, as candidates from up and down the ballot show up and entertain the crowd with zingers and pithy comments about the opposition.
More like a roast than a political rally, Fancy Farms is closely watched as a bellwether of support in the big races. The crowd can become unruly at times, as they hurl insults right back at the candidates. McConnell appeared to take it all in stride but Grimes looked a little rattled by the heckling.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his opponent, Democrat Alison Grimes, appeared in western Kentucky’s Fancy Farm Picnic, where they each criticized the experience level of the other candidate.
“Thirty-five is my age – that’s also Senator McConnell’s approval rating,” Grimes quipped.
Polling from earlier this year indicated McConnell’s approval rating was in the low 30s.
And Grimes gave McConnell grief for serving in Washington for so long, saying he’d forgotten about the people of Kentucky.
“After three decades in Washington, you’ve just given up. You don’t care about us any more. Thanks to you, D.C. stands for ‘Doesn’t Care,” Grimes said.
But McConnell had something to say about how important his experience is while highlighting Grimes’ inexperience, drawing parallels between Grimes, who’s two years in as Kentucky’s secretary of state, and the relative inexperience of President Barack Obama before taking office.
“He was only two years into his first big job when he started campaigning for the next one. Sound familiar?” McConnell said.
This is the 134th year of the event held in Fancy Farm. It’s a unique event, bringing together candidates from both parties to the same venue. Grimes and McConnell were heckled throughout their speeches, but it seemed McConnell had more, or at least louder, supporters in house.
Thousands of people attended this year’s event in western Kentucky, where in addition to the candidates, visitors also were able to enjoy a barbecue.
The speech of the day had to go to Senator Rand Paul, who showed up to support McConnell by penning a bit of doggerel that skewered Grimes for her Hollywood fundraising trips:
“There once was a woman from Kentucky, who thought in politics she’d be lucky. So she flew to LA for a Hollywood bash. She came home in a flash, with buckets of cash,” Paul said.
Here’s the speech in its entirety. Watch Grimes’s reaction to Paul’s poem. Is this woman ready for prime time?
The war on coal was much in evidence, as was McConnell’s and Paul’s joint effort to tie Grimes firmly to the side of Barack Obama. The president is extremely unpopular in Kentucky and Grimes has been trying desperately to run away from him the entire campaign. McConnell has created some pretty good ads that point up the fact that Grimes’ first vote will be to make Harry Reid majority leader. Reid’s comments on coal — “Coal makes people sick” have not sat well with most Kentuckians.
McConnell is still vulnerable, but he looks to be in better shape than he was a couple of months ago. Grimes appears to be a candidate searching for an effective line of attack. Every time she points out that McConnell has been in Washington 30 years, she highlights her own inexperience. In short, Grimes has yet to show why people should abandon McConnell and vote for her.
And she’s running out of time to make her case.