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Kentucky governor: School cancellations over Arctic cold are a sign Americans are “getting soft”
Matt Bevin says young people are being told they can “curl up in the fetal position” when life gets hard
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
LOUISVILLE (CFP) — Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is under fire for publicly lamenting the decision of school officials across his state to close amid subzero wind chills, which he said was as a sign that Americans are “getting soft.”
“C’mon now, I mean, there’s no ice going with it or any snow,” Bevin said during a January 29 interview with Louisville radio station WHAS-AM. “What’s happened to America? We’re getting soft.”
The cold snap, which pushed temperatures down into single digits across Kentucky and wind chills below zero in some places, was accompanied by light snow in parts of the state, including Louisville.
While saying he was “being only slightly facetious” and conceding that it might have been “better to err on the side of being safe,” the governor, who grew up in New Hampshire, went on to express his concern about the message that the school closings were sending.
“It does concern me a little bit that in America, on this and a number of other fronts, we’re sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait ’til it stops being hard,” he said.
“That isn’t reality. It just isn’t.”
Bevin, who faces re-election in November amid sagging approval ratings, faced immediate blowback over the remarks, with legendary NBC weatherman Al Roker calling him a “nitwit” on national television and one of his Democratic challengers, Adam Edelen, calling him “dumb and mean.”
The Kentucky Education Association, which sparred with Bevin last year over his controversial plan to change the pension system for state teachers, tweeted that “we will always support decisions made for the health & safety of Kentucky’s children. Always.”
Doug Stafford, a well-known Republican political consultant and adviser to U.S. Senator Rand Paul, took to Twitter to tell Bevin to “hush.”
“No one wants to hear your old man stories about walking uphill both ways in that (cold) when you were a kid,” Stafford said.
Bevin made his remarks on the afternoon before the cold snap moved into Kentucky, as school districts in Louisville and across the state begin announcing that they would be closed the next day. All eight state universities also closed.
Bevin was elected in 2015, and his first term has been tumultuous, including a statewide teachers strike and sometimes testy relations with Republicans in the legislature. Just days before his Arctic weather musings, he made headlines by dumping Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton from his re-election ticket.
Last April, after protests shut down a number of school districts, Bevin drew the ire of teachers when he asserted that with schools closed, children had been sexually assaulted or “physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.”
The governor later apologized for the comments, which prompted the Republican-controlled legislature to formally rebuke him.
Bevin is facing a GOP primary challenge from State Rep. Robert Goforth from London.
Three Democrats are also running for their party’s nomination to oppose Bevin — Edelen, Attorney General Andy Beshear, and House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins from Sandy Hook.
All the controversies have taken a toll on Bevin’s approval rating, which stood at just 38 percent in a December Mason-Dixon poll, making him the least popular chief executive among incumbent governors.
No Republican has ever won a second term as governor in Kentucky.
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Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Matt Bevin slammed for speech at cockfighting rally
Bevin’s claim that the Founding Fathers were cockfighters is lampooned in new radio ad from Senator Mitch McConnell’s campaign
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
LOUISVILLE (CFP) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is lampooning his Republican primary rival, Matt Bevin, for speaking at a cockfighting rally and then asserting that the Founding Fathers were “very, very involved” in the blood sport.
The McConnell campaign is airing a new radio ad calling Bevin “a comedy of errors” and playing an excerpt from The Colbert Report where host Stephen Colbert made fun of Bevin’s speech at the rally.
“Matt Bevin keeps making national headlines, but not in a good way,” the ad says. “Matt Bevin, a comedy of errors. But don’t let the joke be on you.”
Bevin spoke at a rally in Corbin, Kentucky, on March 29, sponsored by the American Gamefowl Defense Network. The group supports legalizing cockfighting, which is currently illegal in all 50 states.
In an subsequent interview with WHAS radio in Louisville, Bevin said he thought the event was a state’s rights rally and wasn’t aware it was in support of cockfighting. He also said he didn’t “condone the sport.”
“But here’s the thing: I’m not going to disparage people for exercising their First Amendment rights,” Bevin told WHAS, before adding an historical analysis that McConnell is now using in the radio ad:
“But it’s interesting when you look at cockfighting, and dogfighting as well, this isn’t something new. It wasn’t invented in Kentucky. For example, I mean, the Founding Fathers were all, many of them, very actively involved in all of this and always have been,” Bevin said.
The Humane Society of the United States’ Legislative Fund is calling on Bevin to drop out of the Senate race.
“Matt Bevin showed appalling judgment in associating himself with this band of lawbreakers and perpetrators of unspeakable animal cruelty,” said Michael Markarian, president of the group. “He’s brought discredit upon the state of Kentucky, and he should withdraw from the Senate race.”
Bevin, 47, of Louisville is a former investment adviser who now runs his family’s bell manufacturing company in New Hampshire. This is his first run for political office. His primary challenge to McConnell has drawn financial support from national conservative groups, including FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
McConnell, 72, has been in the Senate since 1985. He was elected GOP leader in 2007 and would become majority leader if he wins re-election and Republicans pick up the six seats they need to take control.
Recent polling has shown McConnell with a wide lead in the primary race.
Whoever wins the Republican primary on May 20 will face Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election this fall.
McConnell is the Democrats’ top Senate target in 2014 and likely the only chance they have to pick up a seat anywhere in the South.