Amy McGrath has pulled out all the stops to try and oust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The army veteran and current member of the US House has run a campaign as a right-wing Democrat, hoping to suck up dissatisfied voters who still might find it hard to shake their dislike of the Democratic Party. In spite of that tactic (and a massive influx of outside money), polls show McGrath losing decisively. Going into their debate on Monday night, it was McConnell’s election to lose. And he may well have done that, after he repeatedly chuckled through questions regarding the government’s coronavirus response.
McGrath came out swinging from the very beginning of the debate, lambasting the government’s anemic response to the coronavirus crisis and the cavalier attitude of the GOP toward the global pandemic.
“He knew about the dangers of coronavirus way back in January. Did he tell us? Did he come back to Kentucky and say ‘Hey, we need to prepare’?” she asked. “The first time he said the word coronavirus wasn’t until the stock market crashed.”.
Mcconnell countered that he passed an “almost three trillion dollar” coronavirus relief bill, and that he took the social distancing and mask mandates seriously in his role as leader of the Senate.
“Dr. Fauci’s made it clear that coronavirus is not going away and we need to practice distancing and masks until we finally get a vaccine and can put this in the rearview mirror,” he said.
In her rebuttal, McGrath pointed out that the first coronavirus relief package passed in March, and that a second bill that passed by the House of Representatives in May has moldered in the Senate.
After chuckling at McGrath, McConnell picked out parts of the unpassed second relief bill that he found particularly odious, saying the bill contained tax cuts for wealthy, blue-leaning states and “more money for Puerto Rico than... Kentucky.” He then tried to undermine McGrath’s campaign messaging that she’s a right-leaning Democrat by painting McGrath as someone in lock-step with the rest of her party.
“She’s in line with Schumer and Pelosi and all the rest on these issues,” he said.
That set the tone for the night. McGrath attacked McConnell for a lack of urgency in the Senate around coronavirus relief. McConnell laughed and then tried to lump McGrath in with her party.
Needless to say, McConnell’s jovial response to being grilled over 200,000 deaths and mass unemployment did not play well on social media.
McConnell is currently a +7 favorite to win his Senate race, per FiveThirtyEight. It remains to be seen if his debate performance will affect that.