Democrat McGrath wants to ‘cut through’ political discord

August 19, 2018
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Amy McGrath, a Kentucky Democratic candidate for Congress, speaks to supporters during the 26th Annual Wendell Ford Dinner, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. The former fighter pilot said that her military service would help her "cut through" the political discord dividing Washington if she's elected to Congress. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Democrat Amy McGrath on Saturday night framed the upcoming election as a fight for “the soul and the fabric of our country,” and said Congress needs members willing to stand up to the nation’s leaders when they are “in the wrong.”

McGrath, a former fighter pilot challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th District, appeared to take aim at President Donald Trump without mentioning him by name in a speech to an energized crowd of Kentucky Democrats.

Declaring that integrity and character matter, McGrath said the country needs leaders who don’t promote divisiveness or mislead people.

“It is literally about the soul and the fabric of our country,” she said in summing up what she believes is at stake in the November election. “It is literally about who we are as Americans. Who we want to be. The kinds of leaders we want our children to have in our country. That is what this election is about.”

And she took aim at Barr for what she sees as the Republican incumbent’s unwillingness to stand up to Trump when he disagrees with his actions.

“Will we elect leaders who have the courage to step up to the plate and get things done for the good of the nation ... who will do what’s right even when the leader of their party is in the wrong and deep down they know it?” she said.

It was a daring attack in a state that has trended heavily toward Republicans. Trump easily carried the 6th District and won Kentucky by a landslide on his way to the presidency in 2016.

McGrath was the keynote speaker at Kentucky Democrats’ annual Wendell Ford Dinner. She followed the party’s top leaders, who condemned Republicans’ policies in Washington and Frankfort and said Democrats have the energy and momentum heading into November.

Earlier Saturday, McGrath said her military service would help her “cut through” the political discord dividing Washington if she’s elected to Congress.

Before the party dinner, McGrath said in an interview that the leadership lessons she learned in the military are what’s needed to erode the country’s deep political divisions.

McGrath flew 89 combat missions, including bombings targeting al-Qaida and the Taliban, during her career as a Marine. She reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.

She said her military career taught her to work with colleagues from different backgrounds and viewpoints in pursuit of a common goal — a trait she said would serve her well in Congress.

“When I was a Marine, I never looked to the Marine on my left or the one on my right and said ‘Are you a Democrat or a Republican?’” she said. “We all said, ‘What’s the mission? Let’s get it done.’ And I think we need that sort of mentality again.”

During a campaign appearance earlier Saturday in Madison County, Barr touted Republican tax cuts that he said have triggered a burst of economic growth.

“Folks, the economy is soaring and there’s a reason for that,” he said. “That’s not an accident. The economy is not soaring just randomly. The economy is doing well and America is better off again because we have better policies in place.”

Barr said his opponent is on the wrong side on issues ranging from taxes to health care to border control.

“We give the opposition credit for their energy and their enthusiasm, we just disagree with their ideas,” Barr said.

The 6th District stretches from the Appalachian foothills to bluegrass country in and around Lexington. It has swung between Democratic and Republican representation for decades.

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