Retired fighter pilot Amy McGrath had a bumpy launch to her campaign to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this month. But in a recent interview, McGrath said she can still unite Democrats and Republicans against Kentucky’s six-term senior senator.
McGrath told the Courier Journal and Insider Louisville earlier this month that she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That comment raised eyebrows with her supporters, and within hours she retracted the statement via Twitter.
In a recent interview, she said she had never thought about whether she would’ve actually voted in favor of Kavanaugh.
“I took a step back, looked at his judicial record, the fact that I’m very much against some of his ruling, particularly on workers’ rights, on healthcare, particularly on money in politics. And the very serious allegations against him I realized no, I could not have voted for Justice Kavanaugh and so I made a clarification,” McGrath said.
Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court last year amid accusations that he had sexually assaulted a woman named Christine Blasey Ford at a party in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation process took place while McGrath was running for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district.
She made several public comments about the contentious process, saying that she believed Blasey Ford’s sexual misconduct allegations were “credible” and called Kavanaugh a “hardcore partisan” who is against women’s reproductive rights, workers’ rights and consumer protections.
But McGrath maintains that she had never been asked point blank whether she would have voted to confirm him.
“I had actually never been asked that question on the campaign trail, how would you vote. So at the moment I said ‘Well, he’s qualified.’ We have a president who nominated him and that’s how I answered,” McGrath said.
Democrats hoped that McGrath would be able to defeat Republican Congressman Andy Barr during last year’s race for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional seat. She ended up losing by only three points in the district, which went 15 points in favor of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
But now McGrath is running to win an even more conservative electorate — the entirety of Kentucky, which went 30 percentage points in favor of Trump in 2016.
She acknowledges that it’s going to be a tough race, but she says it’s “winnable.”
“A lot of people don’t like Mitch McConnell — a lot of people on the left and the right. They just feel like he’s part of the problem. He’s part of the swamp. He is somebody who’s really a creature of Washington, he makes you cynical about politics,” McGrath said.
McGrath also raised Democratic eyebrows when she said during her campaign launch that McConnell was getting in the way of Trump’s agenda.
McGrath stuck by that statement last week, saying that McConnell hasn’t worked with the president on initiatives like lowering prescription drug prices and infrastructure. But she said characterizations of her being a “pro-Trump Democrat” are incorrect.
“I’m not pro or anti-Trump. I want to do what’s right for Kentucky. And this is the problem that we have in our politics today. Everybody wants to say ‘are you on the red team or the blue team.’ I’ll tell you what, if there’s a good idea, I don’t care whether it comes from a Democrat or a Republican,” McGrath said.
The election for the Senate seat isn’t until next year. Two other Democrats have filed to run. One Republican will challenge McConnell in next year’s primary election.
McGrath addressed several other policy issues during the interview.
“We’ve got to have leaders that don’t— like Mitch McConnell — start to play partisan games with this. We can’t have that anymore. We’ve got to have leaders that get it, like the members of the chiefs of our armed forces and have a plan for how to mitigate it.
“For some strange reason, we have one major political party that refuses to acknowledge that [climate change] is happening.
“You know who’s going to take the reins and run with [renewable energy]? China. China is going to own this market. And I’m an American, man. I’m somebody who wants us to lead. I’m worried that China is going to take over the renewable industry market because we’re too busy arguing.”
“We’ve used coal as this political football for years. Mitch McConnell has known, like many people, that coal has been on the decline. And it’s been on the decline for many reasons — automation in terms of the jobs, fracking, and then renewable energy, the efficiency of it. And basically he just wants to play political games and start labeling the other side as if they’re the reason for this decline.
“We may not want coal to decline, we may keep working to keep our coal miners working, and that’s all good. We better have a plan if it doesn’t work. And that’s my message. I want to go to Washington to say, ‘Hey, our state, our commonwealth powered this country. And the rest of the country owes it back to Kentucky, owes it back to our coal regions to help with a new economy for the future.'”
“The concern that I have as somebody who’s served in the military for 24 years is that the American public isn’t talking about these wars. And that is why I’m a very big proponent of having Congress step up and reauthorize the use of military force. Look, we’ve been at war for 17, 18 years now. Some Americans don’t even know we’re still in Afghanistan.
“I feel like it’s a forgotten war. All of these other places that we’re in, we need to have a debate in this country whether we should be there. That’s why, I believe guys like Sen. McConnell basically have punted this to the presidency.”
“I can’t imagine deciding to get an abortion myself. I just can’t, I’m a mother of three small kids, I can’t do that. At the same time, I believe strongly that government should not be the decider. The laws that we have restricting abortion already are reasonable. I’m a reasonable person on this. We have laws that restrict abortion and I think they’re reasonable. I don’t believe that we should be — especially in cases of rape and incest and in the life of the mother — having the government come down and tell doctors and families what they have to do I just believe is wrong.”