Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Bevin doubles down on his investment to gain high office and emphasizes effort to link Conway to Obama
By Matthew Young
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
Republican Matt Bevin knows a lot about investing. He has had a successful career managing wealth and investments for customers. But in the last two election cycles he has invested nearly $4.8 million of his own cash on a new customer: himself. Now, with one week until voters hit the polls to determine the next governor, Bevin is really hoping for a big return on the money he has given to his two campaigns for public office.
The latest polls show Bevin down five points to Democrat Jack Conway. This is where Bevin has found himself for most of the race, but never able to really cut into Conway’s lead.
Now, as Bevin stares down the barrel of Tuesday, Election Day, he appears to be feeling the urgency of the race. His campaign strategy has shifted over the last two weeks to be markedly more aggressive. Content for months to run a largely positive campaign, his tone seems to be sharpening.
There was the occasional punch thrown early on, like when Bevin told Conway at a September debate, “So much of what comes out of your mouth, Jack, is absolutely made up... You literally make lies up on the fly.” Overall, though, Bevin stayed positive in his message. He stood his ground and kept talking about his issues; Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, job creation, and fighting President Obama.
But as the race comes down to the wire, Bevin has made a stronger foray. At the final two debates of the campaign, held Sunday at Eastern Kentucky University, and Monday at KET, Bevin repeatedly called Conway a liar, challenging his assertions and often interrupting him.
Bevin accused Conway of lying to voters, and saying anything to get elected. He cited Conway saying Bevin would kick 400,000 people off Medicaid and does not support early childhood education Conway claiming he cut his budget by 40 percent as attorney general.
The last two debates were outliers. Bevin has changed the tone of his campaign to attack Conway as a “rubber stamp” for President Obama. Early in the campaign Bevin did not emphasize the tactic common to Republicans over the last seven years, attacking the Democrat as a clone of Obama.
“Jack Conway is a rubber stamp for Barack Obama. ... I am not a career politician. ... I’m a guy like so many out there who simply want better opportunity for themselves, for their families, for their state and for America,” Bevin said on the Glenn Beck Show.
In a TV ad with unidentified people speaking, one says, “He’s just like Obama, maybe worse than Obama.”
Most recently Bevin put out an ad titled “Stamp” mirroring his public accusations: “Career politician Jack Conway is a rubber stamp for Obama's liberal agenda. “He’s for Obamacare, just like Obama. He’s for gun restrictions, like Obama. He’s pro-abortion, like Obama. He’s anti-coal, just like Obama. Conway even voted for Obama. Twice! Jack Conway would be Obama’s Governor.”
Conway often notes that he is the only Democratic attorney general to join a lawsuit against the Obama administration for its regulation of greenhouse gases form coal-fired power plants.. He favors applying the federal background-check law to gun shows.
If Conway were to “be Obama’s governor” he would have only a year and a month to do so, given that Obama leaves office in January 2017. But the attempt to link the two is clear, and it is a clear shift in strategy for Bevin. A strategy that reflects a candidate who might get zero return on a nearly $4.8 million investment.
● In February Bevin said he would reverse the Medicaid expansion immediately, but since July he has talked about changing the program but has offered few details. However, when asked Monday by moderator Bill Goodman whether he would keep the Medicaid income limit at 138 percent of the federal poverty level, Bevin simply said, “No”.
● A Democratic video shows Bevin saying Head Start “serves no purpose after 3rd grade,” meaning its effects disappear after that point, according to one study. In a separate video Bevin appeared to compare Head Start to brainwashing, criticizing its expansion to include 4-year-olds in a federal budget deal. Bevin said “certain regimes” use early education for political gain. “Look at these various regimes throughout history and what is it that they've always said? Give me the children. Give me the minds of the children. That's what they've always said. And it's true. Because I'll tell you, it's not coincidental or accidental that you have them now trying to get 4-year olds." However, Bevin insists he supports the overall cause of early education, and has cited a United Way program, Success by Six, as an example.
● Bevin called Conway a liar for claiming that he cut his budget 40 percent. Bevin is correct; the attorney general proposes his budget, but the governor revises it and submits it to the legislature, which changes and approves it.
● Referring to the Medicaid expansion, Bevin said Conway’s citation of a Deloitte study showing the Medicaid expansion will pay for itself until 2020 was proof that doesn’t know what he is talking about. The study predicts that by adding hundeds of thousands of people to the health-care system, the expansion will create jobs in health care and other industries, but its conclusions have not been proven. Gov. Steve Beshear claimed Tuesday that “Right now, it is paying for itself.”