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Was it a “bald-faced lie” or “splitting hairs?" Breakdown of Bevin/Beshear casino comment

Political strategists on both sides doubt casino suicide comment will win or lose Kentucky Governor’s race.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It may be the most talked about moment of the Kentucky Governor's race so far. 

It happened during a weekend debate between Governor Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear, but will it even move the needle with days to go until Election Day?

Was it a bald-faced lie? Splitting hairs? Depends upon whom you ask.
The moment between Gov.  Bevin and AG  Beshear has buzzed on social media since the two traded verbal jabs at the Oct. 26 debate which WLKY broadcasted.

It involved casinos, suicide and a controversial comment made by the Governor in July this year.

Here's the full exchange followed by some context and reaction from political strategists on both sides:

Mr. Beshear recalled the comment made by Mr. Bevin in July, “This is just more of the same from a Governor who says that someone commits suicide on a casino floor every night.”

Beshear said it, and other statements made about teachers, have been lies by Governor Bevin.

Mr. Bevin responded, “I don't know where this comment about the casinos is, I've never said anything like that in my life.”

Bevin added, “You're not telling the truth again. The truth matters and if it's on tape I want you to produce that tape and show people where I said this happens on the floor of casinos.”

Beshear responded, “You did not say that someone commits suicide on the floor of a casino?”

“Never. No, I did not," Bevin answered.

The "tape" was easy to find, we aired it in the summer. It was from an interview on WKDZ radio on July 31st.

"Every night, somewhere in America, somebody takes their life in a casino because they've wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had. Families are ruined, lives are ruined," said Gov. Bevin.

He might argue that "in a casino" does not mean "on a casino floor." 

Others would say that’s “splitting hairs.”

The day after that radio interview, at a news conference in which he accused Andy Beshear of taking "blood money" during the campaign, I asked the governor if he wanted to clarify. "No," he said.

“Have you ever seen a suicide hotline or a gambling anonymous hotline at the end of an ad for something associated with gambling”, Bevin said in response to my question. “Why do you think those things exist? I don't need to clarify it. I'm stating a fact.”

The debate moment has buzzed on social media but strategists on both sides agree that it's probably not going to win or lose the election.

“I don’t think an issue that’s a he said, he said, on a Saturday night debate, during a UK football game, is going to move the needle among voters whatsoever,” said Republican Strategist, Julia Crigler.

Democratic Strategist Matt Erwin agreed, “There’s never a good time to make a gaffe of that magnitude in the race, but my guess is that, at this point, support for both sides is fairly well baked in and campaigns will be pivoting to a turnout operation.”

Both candidates are set for what may be the most important of the debates on KET.

Including the Oct. 28 debate, there are two debates left and this is the only debate of the entire series that will air across the state. 

It's on public television.

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