U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers speaks during a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Kentucky, held Saturday at the residence of Terry and Marion Forcht in Corbin. Terry Forcht is pictured at far left. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is in the center.
Even though his election is more than one year away, the re-election bid of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was the primary topic on the minds of the Republican faithful Saturday in Corbin.
Both McConnell and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers spoke about it at length during remarks at the 75th Annual Fifth District Lincoln Club Banquet Saturday evening and at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Kentucky, which was held Saturday afternoon at the home of Terry and Marion Forcht in Corbin.
Their message was very similar. McConnell needs the help of fifth district voters in order to win re-election so he can keep fighting the liberal agenda of President Barack Obama.
"Some of you may have noticed my race is already underway," McConnell joked. "As the Republican leader of the senate, I’m a national piñata."
McConnell noted his is the only race in 2014 with national significance, and that the other side is willing to go to great lengths to defeat him. This ranges from illegally recording his meetings to using racial slurs against his wife, Elaine Chao, who served eight years as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor.
"That tells you something about our opponents," McConnell said. "Several of these clowns have bugged our headquarters. The FBI investigation is underway. Aside from that, it has just been a lot of fun."
McConnell said that it isn’t clear yet, which Democrat will oppose him, but he made one prediction.
"Whoever does come at me will have made the worst decision of their adult life," McConnell said. "We are going to send them a message that Kentucky is not Barack Obama territory."
Rogers encouraged the party faithful to not only get a large enough voter turnout to carry their home counties but also a voter turnout large enough to help McConnell overcome deficits he will run in many Democratic leaning counties.
"In the rest of the state where he may not get as big a vote, these votes matter here. I don’t want you just carrying your county. I want you carrying your county big enough to off set a loss some where else," Rogers said.
"You and I need to exert all the energy that we have to be sure that this statesmen is re-elected to the U.S. Senate so that he can represent us up there and also so Kentucky can hopefully have the majority leader of the U.S. Senate."
Rogers noted that McConnell has been able to defeat a good amount of Obama’s left-wing agenda.
"There is no other place that can take place besides the senate and he has been able to do it by skill, by hard work, by smarts and by solid support from home," Rogers said. "We’ll see who the Democrats want to put up against him, but I wouldn’t want to be that person."
McConnell said that his role as Senate Minority Leader is to try and move the president towards the center.
"The question is can any progress be made at all? I hope so because my friends there is only one person out of 300 million Americans, who can sign something into law," McConnell said.
"We don’t have four years to waste until hopefully we get a better president. I hope he will move in the direction of helping us solve this deficit and debt problem."
McConnell said Obama did two things, which helped him get re-elected.
The first was convincing the country that the economy was still George Bush’s fault.
"Apparently there is no statute of limitations on George Bush," McConnell said.
The second was convincing voters that Romney was a rich guy, who wasn’t like them and could not relate to them.
"I salute him. He’s a terrific politician but he is a terrible president," McConnell added.
"This administration has been a disaster for the country."
Rogers added that most people probably don’t realize spending Congress actually controls has been cut by about $175 billion over the last two years.
"You hear in the news that spending is increasing and it is," Rogers said. "It is the entitlements. We only appropriate about one-third of all federal spending. Two-thirds is the entitlement programs and they are growing like a weed."
Bob Mitchell, a member of the Fifth District Hall of Fame and Rogers’ former district director, also addressed the crowd during the banquet.
Among others, Mitchell recognized long-time Republican leader Nelda Barton-Collins, who was unable to attend this year’s banquet, but he noted that she was there in spirit.
Mitchell also recognized Terry and Marion Forcht for their efforts on behalf of the Republican Party. He noted that the fundraiser is just one small thing that the couple does on a daily basis not only for the Republican Party but for the whole state of Kentucky.
"I thank you all for what you do," Mitchell added.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers echoed similar sentiments.
"It has been a wonderful year for the Republicans at the state level but it doesn’t stop there. I do want to personally thank Terry Forcht and all the other people, who constantly help us raise money," Stivers added.
85 people attended the fundraiser at the Forcht’s home Saturday afternoon. Proceeds went to the Republican Party of Kentucky’s general fund to support all statewide candidates.
The 75th Annual Fifth District Lincoln Day Banquet was held at the Corbin Technology Center.
During the banquet, five people were inducted into the Fifth District Lincoln Club Hall of Fame, including: Ruth Smith of Wayne County, Judge Tim Conley of Morgan County, Judge Albey Brock of Bell County and George and Resa Flynn of Pulaski County.
The hall of fame was started in 1985 and honors outstanding Republican leaders who have contributed above and beyond the call of duty to the Republican Party, noted Rogers, who presided over the induction ceremony.
After the induction ceremony, 2014 Lincoln Club Officers were sworn in including: President Allison Ball, President-Elect Rob Lincks, Secretary Andrea Begley, Treasurer Nancy Mitchell and Sgt. At Arms Rep. David Meade.