Alison Lundergan Grimes

Mitch McConnell and the “Republican brand”

TL;DR: Mitch McConnell feels threatened by principled conservatives and feels that they’re ruining the “Republican brand” by challenging him and other establishment Republicans. But really, the “Republican brand” is in shambles, and it’s time to re-define that brand to return to small-government principles.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t a happy camper these days. He’s locked in both a contentious primary and general election fight, losing rule battles against his Democratic counterpart, and has to contend with some members of his own party who are constantly willing to stand on principle, rather than the party line.

“The ‘Republican brand’ was severely damaged several years ago. That was largely due to dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush, an unpopular war, and corruption in Congress.”

The rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative organizations have created havoc for McConnell and Republican leadership in the chamber, who enjoyed mostly distant rumblings from the political right in the past. But over the last few months, there has been a tiff between the Kentucky Republican and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) that has now boiled over into the public.

Leftist Hollywood superstars are giving big money to help Democrats keep the Senate

It’s not exactly breaking news that Tinseltown is full of people who are friendly to Democrats. Hollywood elites were big boosters of Barack Obama in both of his presidential campaigns. In 2012 alone, celebrities shelled out nearly $700,000 (and probably more) to Obama.

Hollywood is once again playing a role in an election, this time around writing checks for Democrats as they struggle to keep control of the Senate this fall. One of the main recipients of celebrities’ largess is Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY), who is taking on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

[Grimes’] donor list reads like a who’s who of Tinseltown: producer J.J. Abrams, Ben Affleck, comedian Jack Black, “Avatar” director James Cameron, Nicolas Cage, Danny DeVito, Cameron Diaz, [Leonardo] DiCaprio, Jennifer Garner, director Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Myers and “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm, all giving $5,200 each, the maximum amount an individual can give to a single candidate in a two-year election cycle.

Other Grimes donors include DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Woody Allen, Ted Danson, America Ferrera, Leonard Nimoy, [Barbra] Streisand, “West Wing” writer Aaron Sorkin, Ben Stiller and Chris Rock.

While several other Democrats have received campaign contributions from Hollywood, Grimes’ campaign has brought in the most, with contributions totalling $100,000, according to The Hill.

Today in Liberty: Remembering the Unknown Rebel, Obama administration fails to win over senators on Taliban deal

“As the tanks neared the Beijing Hotel, the lone young man walked toward the middle of the avenue waving his jacket and shopping bag to stop the tanks. I kept shooting in anticipation of what I felt was his certain doom. But to my amazement, the lead tank stopped, then tried to move around him. But the young man cut it off again. Finally, the [Public Security Bureau] grabbed him and ran away with him.” Charlie Cole

— Remember the Unknown Rebel: Twenty-five years ago today, an unidentified man, thought to be a student, walked in front of a line of tanks on their way to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where thousands of students, yearning for freedom, were protesting China’s totalitarian government.

The day before the photo above was taken, the military had stormed Tiananmen Square, killing as many as 1,000 protesters. The famous photo of “tank man” is censored in China, but his stand against an oppressive government is an inspiration to millions. But to show what exactly this brave guy was up against, see below.

KY Senate: Grimes won’t say if she’ll campaign with Obama

Alison Lundergan Grimes

While many vulnerable Senate Democrats are making it clear that the don’t want to be seen on the campaign trail with President Barack Obama, Alison Lundergan Grimes is trying to skirt the question.

During an appearance yesterday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Grimes, who is the likely Democratic nominee in the Kentucky Senate race, was asked directly about campaigning with President Obama. Rather than answer, she tried to deflect by claiming that she is independent of her party.

“This race is one that’s about putting the people of this state first, and I speak for myself and don’t need any other surrogate to do that,” said Grimes, who is campaigning with Bill Clinton today. “I stand in stark contrast to the President in many of his ideas and platforms.”

John McCain: Mitch McConnell faces a “very tough” race

John McCain and Mitch McConnell

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) didn’t help Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday. Shortly after a handful of Senate Republicans helped Democrats hand President Obama a blank check to raise the debt ceiling, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee acknowledged that McConnell faces a “very tough race” back home and that his vote on the debt hike could come back to hurt him:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., thinks he faces a “tough” battle, made tougher by his vote to break a filibuster of the debt limit increase.

“I must say that it was a very courageous act, especially Sen. McConnell, who — as you well know — is in a very tough race,” McCain told Politico on Wednesday, in an apparent allusion to the fact that the vote gives his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, political ammunition against McConnell.

Sixty-seven senators voted to end debate on the debt limit increase, though McConnell and the rest of the Senate Republicans voted against the debt limit increase itself.

KY Senate: Matt Bevin says McConnell can’t win this fall

Matt Bevin

At an event sponsored by FreedomWorks PAC, Matt Bevin cited recent polls as evidence that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can’t win this fall, telling media in attendance that Kentucky voters should try something new:

In remarks at a Washington event sponsored by the tea party-affiliated group FreedomWorks PAC, Bevin painted himself as the only Republican who can beat Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in what is already among the most high-profile races of the 2014 midterm cycle.

“We run a tremendous risk of losing this seat in Kentucky to someone who does not represent Kentucky values,” Bevin said. “We run the risk of losing this seat because of a sense of apathy and a sense of fatigue for the career politician that is my opponent in this primary, Mitch McConnell.”
“There are many reasons why who I am as a real person, in the real world, resonates with people,” Bevin told reporters, pointing to his family, military and business experience.

He added that Grimes “cannot get the anti-Mitch vote when she’s running against me. That’s a significant chunk of the voting bloc that are simply voting against him.”

The Courier-Journal and WKYT released a poll last week which found Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, leading McConnell by 4 points, 46/42. The poll also found that McConnell’s approval rating is underwater, at 32/60. By contrast, President Obama’s approval rating is at 34/60.

KY Senate: McConnell tied with Dem challenger, Bevin leads

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can’t be happy with the latest poll out of Kentucky, released yesterday by Rasmussen Reports. It’s not that he finds himself in an unusual position against his Democratic challenger, but rather than his primary opponent is outperforming him.

The poll found that McConnell is tied with Alison Lundergan Grimes, at 42/42. That’s on par with other recent polls, which have found the Kentucky Republican holding slight, statistically insignificant leads.

McConnell’s Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin, however, holds a 4-point lead over Grimes, at 40/36, just inside the margin of error.

Though the poll didn’t offer any hint of McConnell’s approval ratings, Rasmussen did measure voter favorability of the three candidates.

Kentucky voters have a mixed view of Grimes, who is viewed favorably by 40%, while 37% hold an unfavorable view. Bevin isn’t well known, but 32% have a favorable view. The same number said that they’d never heard of him. Twenty-six percent (26%) view him unfavorably.

McConnell’s numbers aren’t bad, though he’s still underwater, with 46% holding a favorable of the Senate minority leader and 49% expressing an unfavorable opinion.

As one might imagine, Bevin gloated about the numbers.

“These poll numbers are an accurate reflection of what I see and hear every day traveling across the Commonwealth,” said Bevin in a statement. “Kentuckians have had enough of career politicians like Mitch McConnell who compromise our conservative principles and instead vote for Obamacare, bailouts, amnesty and tax increases.”

KY Senate: FreedomWorks backs McConnell primary challenger

FreedomWorks PAC has endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) primary challenger, Matt Bevin, the grassroots organization announced yesterday, adding to the already contentious, polarizing race.

“For far too long Mitch McConnell has sat on the sidelines of pivotal fights, helping the Democrats pass unprecedented surveillance powers, the TARP/Wall Street bailout, numerous tax hikes and debt ceiling increases, and Medicare Part D,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks PAC.

“Most recently,” Kibbe continued, “he orchestrated the McConnell-Reid sellout bargain to increase the debt limit and fully fund a broken health care law, getting a $1.2 billion ‘special project kickback’ in the process. Kentucky deserves better, and looking at the dropping poll numbers for McConnell, there’s no reason to settle.”

“Now more than ever, we need strong fiscal conservatives who will fight to cut spending on the front lines, not the sidelines. Matt Bevin is a great upgrade for Kentuckians who are serious about transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability in government,” he added.

McConnell’s campaign has denied responsibility for the “special project kickback” — funding for a river lock project on the Ohio-Kentucky border — to which Kibbe referred in his statement. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reportedly requested the earmark.

KY Senate: Democrat compares beating McConnell to liberating Europe from Nazis

Greg Stumbo

During a campaign event last week for Alison Lungren Grimes, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) told fellow Democrats that compared the prospect of beating Mitch McConnell to liberating Europe from the Nazis.

“You know, we’ve got a lot of people who came here tonight to celebrate, and I had to speak to the crowd when we kicked off this campaign back in July in Lexington,” Stumbo told the crowd on Thursday. “It reminded me of the feeling our troops must have had when they liberated the European nations after World War II.”

“Can you imagine what it felt like that you were liberating a country? Well, you’re about to liberate your state from the worst reign of misabuse that we’ve seen in the last 30 years,” he said to cheers. “You’re about to give us hope.”

The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of some 11 million people, including Holocaust victims. Nearly 293,000 members of the United States military died liberating Europe from Nazi oppression.

KY Senate: Conservative group backs Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger

Matt Bevin (photo courtesy of Matt Bevin for Kentucky

Following a heated and divisive fight over ObamaCare and a deal brokered between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a prominent conservative organization has announced its endorsement of the Republican leader’s primary challenger.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), announced on Friday that they would back Matt Bevin, a conservative candidate challenging McConnell for the Republican nomination in Kentucky.

“Matt Bevin is a true conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are destroying our country. He is not afraid to stand up to the establishment and he will do what it takes to stop Obamacare,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, in a press statement.

“We know that winning this primary won’t be easy. Mitch McConnell has the support of the entire Washington establishment and he will do anything to hold on to power. But if people in Kentucky and all across the country rise up and demand something better, we’re confident Matt Bevin can win this race,” he added.

The Senate Conservatives Fund is framing the race between Bevin, who they call a “constitutional conservative,” and McConnell, labeled as a “Washington insider” who has “a liberal record and refuses to fight for conservative principles.”

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