Sen. McConnell Draws Praise, Protest In Lexington

Jan 18, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell received a standing ovation at a Commerce Lexington Luncheon Friday, but it was a different scene outside the Convention Center.

Sen. McConnell greets luncheon attendees (left) and protesters chant anti-McConnell slogans outside Rupp (right).
Sen. McConnell greets luncheon attendees (left) and protesters chant anti-McConnell slogans outside Rupp (right).
Credit Josh James / WUKY

Sen. McConnell spent much of his address to Commerce Lexington arguing for entitlement reforms he says are crucial to saving the country from crushing debt. As one of the two central figures credited with cutting the deal that narrowly averted the fiscal cliff in December, McConnell lamented the brinksmanship that’s characterized much of the debate in Washington.

"I don't like being called in at the last minute to try to figure out how to broker some last minute deal. It's no way to run the government. I've had to do it on three occasions during the Obama administration," he said.

Meanwhile, a group of about 25 protesters outside, waving signs that read “Ditch Mitch!” and “Not a Fiscal Cliff Hero,” pointed to McConnell as part of the problem. Shawn Reilly is with Progress Kentucky, the Super PAC that organized the demonstration.

"It's our view and the view of Progress Kentucky that when you are the hostage taker that you should not get credit for releasing the hostages and nobody should be rewarding Mitch for doing his job," Reilly said.

McConnell did not specifically endorse a government shutdown or refusal to raise the debt ceiling, but instead characterized the upcoming congressional deadlines as opportunities to have a serious discussion about reigning in what he calls “a spending addiction.”