McConnell, Grimes trade jabs on immigration, Medicare


by Joe Arnold

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 11 at 6:32 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's argument is that supporting him, a five-term incumbent, is a vote for change versus supporting first term Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who he says represents more of the same.

McConnell spoke Friday morning to an annual summer convention of Kentucky county officials, one day after Grimes addressed the same group.

"My suspicion is no matter what ticket you ran on, you're not happy with the condition of this country," McConnell told the magistrates and judge-executives.  "You're probably not happy with this administration, and you too think that we need to go in a different direction."

McConnell criticized Grimes for her interview at the convention on Thursday when she declined to say whether she supports President Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request to deal with the flood of unaccompanied minors across the border.

"My opponent seemed not to understand the difference between the president's request with regard to this current unaccompanied minor issue and last year's immigration bill," McConnell told the gathering.

The flap has blunted what the Grimes campaign hoped to make the issue this week, Medicare.

The Grimes campaign on Friday released a new video, doubling down on its message that McConnell wants "to end Medicare as we know it" and McConnell's 2011 vote to advance a Rep. Paul Ryan budget measure proves it.

Grimes Campaign Video:

The McConnell campaign has stressed that McConnell's 2011 vote on the Ryan budget was on a "motion to proceed," a preliminary move prior to any amendments or other changes that may have affected whether McConnell supported the ultimate measure.

"McConnell did not just vote for the budget," the Grimes campaign states in a memo to reporters, "he was a cheerleader for its damaging provisions on national television and on the Senate floor."

The Grimes video includes a quick sound bite from McConnell from the May 30, 2011 on NBC-TV's Meet The Press in which McConnell said, “I voted for the Ryan budget this week.”

Speaking with reporters after meeting with a long line of the convention's attendees, McConnell was asked by WHAS11 about the Grimes campaign contention that his Medicare position "would decimate Medicare, raise the program’s eligibility age and increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors if he had his way."

"No current beneficiaries or people likely to be beneficiaries in the near future would be adversely affected by such a decision," McConnell responded. 

Though McConnell would not directly address his 2011 vote, he pointed out that fact checkers have debunked the claims in Grimes' ads that current seniors would be affected by the proposed Medicare reforms.

"In terms by my opponent to politicize the issue - you've seen her try to do that in an earlier advertisement that was clearly wrong - no one currently receiving Medicare or likely to be receiving medicare in the near future would be impacted by any of the changes we're talking about," McConnell reiterated.  "To fail to make changes that make the eligibility fit the demographics of America for our children and grandchildren means Medicare is going to tank in 10 years."

Grimes contends that if benefits are changed for future retirees, current retirees will also pay a price.