Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has oft been called RINO and a man who stands for nothing but reelection by conservatives across the nation. Yet he has been in power since 1985, and, as Liberty Nation’s Leesa K. Donner explained last year, is the “longest reigning Republican leader in U.S. Senate history.” Love him or hate him, you can’t argue that his strategy has been anything other than effective. However, Mitch now faces a new type of challenger for the 2020 election – a Democrat angling for the support of both the president and the Americans who voted for him. So, who is Amy McGrath to our president and the MAGA folk of Kentucky: friend or foe?
Retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Amy McGrath announced her bid against Mitch McConnell for the US Senate Tuesday, July 9, and she came out swinging hard. In her announcement video, the combat veteran hammered McConnell for being a career politician who has been in office longer than many voters have been alive and who essentially ignores the people of Kentucky. She claims she sent letters to Congressmen as a teen, asking for the law that would keep her from flying in the military to be changed. McConnell, as the story goes, never responded.
The law did change, of course, and she became the first female captain to fly the F/A-18. She flew 89 combat missions during her 20 years in the Marines, and, as she had dreamed in her youth, she got to land on aircraft carriers. That’s a heck of a feather in her cap – far more than what most politicians can claim. Both her appeal to the common voter and her message that McConnell is the worst kind of career politician were strong, and she managed to rake in a whopping $2.5 million in her first 24 hours – which is the most money ever raised on the first day of a senatorial campaign.
But the would-be senator has hit a bit of a snag, which might prove to be the fatal flaw in her campaign. Her appeal to Trump and the Americans who voted for him doesn’t match up to what she said back in 2017 and 2018, when she ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat in the House of Representatives – and it could shoot some mighty big holes in her desired image as a candidate of integrity.
McConnell announced his intention to run for reelection back in April and has leaned heavily on his ties to President Trump in hopes of piggybacking on MAGA support. McConnell isn’t particularly well liked, polling as the least favorite senator amongst voters, and if another candidate could pull Trump’s endorsement, it could mean the end of the long-time GOP leader’s career.
It is exactly this foundation that McGrath is attacking. She lays the blame at his feet for blocking the president’s agendas in Congress and raises the novel question of whether Kentucky is a solidly Republican state or a Democrat state that just loves Trump.
Unfortunately for her, however, the ghost of her 2018 campaign for the House has come back to haunt her since making those comments. At a “Meet the Candidates Series” event on November 20, 2017, she explained how it felt to discover that Trump was president by saying it was like the feeling after the September 11 terror attacks. Ouch. But beyond even that, her positions on several key issues are the polar opposite of President Trump’s. Not only did she support abortion as 100% a woman’s choice, she also endorsed having the government pay for the procedure. She staked out an anti-border security position and called the wall stupid. She encouraged increased taxation to balance the budget and claimed that corporate tax cuts didn’t help people. ObamaCare was a step in the right direction, she opined. She supported increased gun regulation and saw it as a necessity.
She may have enjoyed some initial success by claiming she’s all in on Trump’s drain the swamp agenda, but her previous campaign does seem to discredit her current slogan: “anti-corruption, anti-obstruction, anti-BS.” To make mattes worse, when called on the discrepancy by Jake Tapper, she seemed to try to talk around the issue and downplay the impact of her Trump-September 11 comparison.
A Good Landing?
After the crash landing of his B-17 in 1944, Gerald R. Massie wrote: “Any landing you can walk away from is a good one!” Will McGrath be able to walk away from what sure seems like a plane crash of a campaign flub? Maybe. Those who oppose her might be tempted to look at this one of two ways: Either she is lying now and merely gunning for support from Trump and his voters, or she lied a couple of years ago and was pandering to the anti-Trump crowd then. Either way, she blows her whole “anti-BS” theme. There is, however, a third option. It seems unlikely, but it’s possible – and it might be the only way to salvage her claim to integrity.
It’s entirely possible that Amy McGrath woke up the day after Trump was elected president and was devastated. She might have legitimately felt the same – or similar – as the day she found out about the terror attacks. But maybe Trump proved her wrong. She could really believe today that Trump is the president this country needs, and honestly seeks out his support and that of MAGA country. But such a leap, one would think, should require an explanation.
But then there are those pesky policy issues. Even if McGrath comes out and says that she was wrong about Trump before and has changed her mind, she’ll have to do a complete 180 on several key issues before she can pull the MAGA vote.
Is Amy McGrath the one to end the reign of the Mighty McConnell in 2020? Perhaps. She has a long way to go to get there, though. If nothing else, it will be an interesting campaign to watch.