clearn.png
Monday October 19th, 2020 8:30PM

McConnell, McGrath spar over federal response to coronavirus

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opponent accused him of failing the country with the lack of another coronavirus relief package, while the Republican incumbent described himself as a powerful advocate for Kentucky in a hard-hitting televised debate Monday evening.

In their first, and potentially only debate of the campaign, McConnell and Democratic challenger Amy McGrath sparred over the federal response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Supreme Court nomination fight and the Republican incumbent’s decadeslong record.

McGrath, a retired Marine combat pilot, was aggressive in blaming the senator for Congress’ inability to secure another round of federal relief for a pandemic-battered economy, calling it a “dereliction of duty.” McConnell blamed congressional Democrats for the stalemated negotiations.

McConnell touted his top Senate leadership post and his ability to deliver federal money as valuable assets for Kentucky that would be lost if he leaves the Senate. McGrath said the Republican incumbent has failed to tackle the state’s chronic economic and health problems.

The exchange turned personal as McConnell responded to the barrage from McGrath and her repeated references crediting her Marine career for training her to be a problem solver.

“I think her entire campaign is: she’s a Marine, she’s a mom and I’ve been there (the Senate) too long,” McConnell said.

McGrath responded: “Senator, you’ve been there for 36 years. How’s it looking, Kentucky?” She pointed to the state’s stubbornly high cancer and diabetes rates along with lack of broadband access and well-paying jobs in some parts of the state.

McConnell countered that he’s delivered billions of dollars in federal money that McGrath couldn’t replicate if she replaces him and takes her place as a freshman on the “back bench” in the Senate.

“I allow Kentucky to punch above its weight,” McConnell said. “What does it mean to Kentucky over the last term? My last term $17.5 billion for the commonwealth that would not have been there had I not been the majority leader of the Senate.”

The debate offered McGrath her best chance for a breakthrough against McConnell, who has long dominated Kentucky’s political landscape and has consistently led in polling as he seeks a seventh term. In-person early voting begins Tuesday, and many Kentuckians are filling out absentee ballots.

The debate comes at a crucial time for McConnell, who is running his own race while also focused on keeping his job as majority leader as the GOP struggles to retain control of the Senate.

When asked about the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak, McGrath gave President Donald Trump and Congress an “F,” before turning her attention to McConnell.

“His one job is to help America through this crisis right now in passing legislation to keep our economy afloat so that people can make ends meet,” she said. “And instead of doing that, he is trying to ram through a Supreme Court nominee right now, instead of negotiating, which is what he should have been doing all summer long to make that happen.”

For his part, McConnell said he offered another coronavirus relief bill about a month ago that stalled when it drew no Democratic support in the Senate.

“I think they don’t want a solution prior to the election,” he said of congressional Democrats.

Trying to put the blame back on McConnell, McGrath said: “If you want to call yourself a leader, you got to get things done. Those of us who served in the Marines, we don’t just point fingers at the other side, we get the job done.”

McConnell noted that he shepherded an economic rescue package totaling more than $2 trillion through the Senate early in the fight against the pandemic. McGrath responded: “That legislation was passed back in March, and here we are this coronavirus is still happening.”

The Kentucky rivals also delved into the Supreme Court nomination battle under way in Washington. The nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, presented her approach to the law as conservative and fair on Monday at the start of the confirmation hearings, while angry Democrats, powerless to stop her, cast her as a threat to Americans’ health care coverage during the pandemic.

McGrath said there should be no vote on filling a Supreme Court vacancy so close to the election, and criticized what she saw as McConnell’s inconsistency on the matter. Four years ago, McConnell blocked then-President Barack Obama’s choice of Judge Merrick Garland to fill another Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year.

“Look, four years ago, Senator McConnell said by the McConnell rule during an election year, ‘We don’t vote on a nominee, let the people decide,’” McGrath said. “Well, right now, with 22 days to an election, we should let the people decide.”

McConnell, who is leading the fast-track confirmation process for Barrett, called her an “extraordinary nominee” and an “accomplished scholar.”

The hourlong debate was aired on Gray Television’s Kentucky-based stations. It came near the end of a big-spending campaign that has been waged in distance, with the two sparring in hard-hitting TV ads.

The rivals debated at WKYT, and the Lexington station took a number of precautions in response to the coronavirus. Kentucky is in the midst of another spike of COVID-19 cases.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Senate Election News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Microsoft attempts takedown of global criminal botnet
Microsoft says it has taken legal action seeking to disrupt a major cybercrime digital network that uses more than 1 million zombie computers to loot bank accounts and spread ransomware
7:56PM ( 24 minutes ago )
California GOP says it owns unofficial ballot drop boxes
California’s Republican Party has acknowledged owning unofficial ballot drop boxes that state election officials say are illegal
7:51PM ( 29 minutes ago )
AP source: Vegas agrees to sign Pietrangelo to $61.6M deal
The Vegas Golden Knights have agreed to terms on a $61.6 million, seven-year contract with top free agent Alex Pietrangelo, a person with direct knowledge of the move tells The Associated Press
7:46PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump holds 1st rally since contracting coronavirus
President Donald Trump has retuned to the campaign trail as he tries to stage a late comeback just a week after his release from the hospital over a serious case of COVID-19
7:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Barrett vows fair approach as justice, Democrats skeptical
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has presented her conservative approach to the law at the start of a fast-tracked confirmation hearing
7:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden makes big push in Ohio, once seen as long shot for him
Joe Biden is campaigning in Ohio as he attempts to expand the battleground map and keep President Donald Trump on the defensive in a state thought to be out of reach after veering right in the presidential race four years ago
6:56PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Strong gains for technology stocks send Wall Street higher
Solid gains for technology stocks pushed Wall Street higher Monday, tacking more gains onto last week’s rally
4:08PM ( 4 hours ago )
Health care law on line at court, but is it likely to fall?
To hear Democrats tell it, a Supreme Court with President Donald Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett could quickly get rid of the Affordable Care Act
3:40PM ( 4 hours ago )
Kyrgyz president declares new state of emergency
Kyrgyzstan’s president has ordered a new, week-long state of emergency in the country’s capital after parliament failed to approve his previous order within the legally required three days
3:38PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Harris: GOP wants court to do their 'dirty work'
California Sen. Kamala Harris says Republicans are trying to get the Supreme Court to do their “dirty work” by installing a new justice who will overturn the Affordable Care Act
1:26PM ( 6 hours ago )
Health care is focus as Barrett Supreme Court hearing opens
Senate Democrats branded Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett a threat to Americans’ health care during the coronavirus pandemic Monday
1:24PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Lee goes to Barrett hearing, posts doctor letter
Sen. Mike Lee has released a doctor’s letter saying he no longer needs to be in isolation for COVID-19, allowing him to join the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett
12:34PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
Belarus ramps up crackdown on protests, detains over 700
Police in Belarus detained 713 people during Sunday's mass protests against reelection of the country’s authoritarian leader, the harshest crackdown on protesters in weeks
3:34PM ( 4 hours ago )
Federal judge upholds Minnesota’s extended ballot counting
A federal judge has upheld a Minnesota state court agreement that allows the counting of absentee ballots received up to seven days after Election Day as long as they are postmarked on or before Nov. 3
3:18PM ( 5 hours ago )
Facebook bans Holocaust denial, distortion posts
Facebook says it is banning posts that deny or distort the Holocaust and will start directing people to authoritative sources if they search for information about the Nazi genocide
3:10PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing opens
Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing has begun
9:04AM ( 11 hours ago )
Supreme Court nominee Barrett faces Senate despite virus
Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are set to begin
8:08AM ( 12 hours ago )
2020 Watch: Is it too late for Trump to turn things around?
President Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail this week after an 11-day absence in what is likely his last opportunity to reset his beleaguered presidential reelection bid
5:23AM ( 14 hours ago )
General Election News
Precedent, recusal, Roe: A court nomination viewer's guide
A scant two weeks after her nomination, Judge Amy Coney Barrett goes before a Senate committee that’s bitterly split along partisan lines over whether the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death should be filled now or should await the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election
7:54AM ( 1 day ago )
Republicans see 'grim' Senate map and edge away from Trump
Vulnerable Republicans are increasingly taking careful but clear steps away from President Donald Trump in the final stretch of the 2020 election
9:09PM ( 4 days ago )
Democrat's personal scandal roils N. Carolina Senate race
A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship this summer with a consultant
9:04PM ( 5 days ago )
General Senate Election News
Trump insists he's free of virus, ready for campaign trail
President Donald Trump says he's healthy and “in very good shape” to return to the campaign trail following his COVID-19 diagnosis
12:40PM ( 1 day ago )
Jamaicans in Florida energized by Harris on 2020 ticket
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are entering the final stretch of the campaign in a fierce battle for Latino voters who could sway the results in Florida and determine who wins the White House
7:48AM ( 1 day ago )
Biden hits Trump on economy in critical Pennsylvania county
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is blistering President Donald Trump as only pretending to care about the working-class voters who helped flip the Rust Belt to the Republican column four years ago
6:00PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Trump holds 1st rally since contracting coronavirus
President Donald Trump has returned to the campaign trail as he tries to stage a late comeback just a week after his release from the hospital over a serious case of COVID-19
8:00PM ( 21 minutes ago )
California GOP says it owns unofficial ballot drop boxes
California’s Republican Party has acknowledged owning unofficial ballot drop boxes that state election officials say are illegal
7:51PM ( 29 minutes ago )
AP source: Vegas agrees to sign Pietrangelo to $61.6M deal
The Vegas Golden Knights have agreed to terms on a $61.6 million, seven-year contract with top free agent Alex Pietrangelo, a person with direct knowledge of the move tells The Associated Press
7:46PM ( 35 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump tells Fla. supporters he feels 'powerful'
President Donald Trump has returned to the campaign trail, holding his first rally since he contracted the coronavirus
7:42PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Margot's homer, catch highlight Rays' 4-2 win over Astros
Manuel Margot hit a three-run home run one batter after a crucial Houston error and made a spectacular catch in right field in his former home ballpark, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Astros 4-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series
7:30PM ( 50 minutes ago )