OWINGSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Former Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd in a small Kentucky town that “basic American values are under assault” as voters face the midterm elections, and Democratic congressional nominee Amy McGrath has the character and courage that’s lacking in Washington.
McGrath, a retired fighter pilot, is considered a strong challenger to Andy Barr, a Republican seeking a fourth term in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
Biden is the highest profile Democrat who has come to Kentucky in support of McGrath. He stressed the importance of the November elections to the packed gymnasium at Bath County High School on Friday.
“This is not hyperbole. This election is bigger than politics,” Biden said. “No matter how young or old you are you’ve never been through an election quite like this, never. Our basic values, our basic American values are under assault.”
Biden said “character is the single most important thing that Amy brings to this race.” And he said, “character is the single most lacking commodity for many of those serving us (in) the United States Congress today.”
McGrath’s campaign has emphasized turning out voters in the district’s rural counties. She said it was important to bring Biden to a small town like Owingsville to show her commitment to getting outside the district’s larger cities of Lexington and Frankfort.
“He’s here because he knows very well what’s at stake in these midterm elections,” McGrath said.
Barr will campaign with President Donald Trump on Saturday evening in Richmond, Kentucky.
Biden has been mentioned as a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, but he has not said if he will run. Before Biden spoke, he was feted with chants of “run Joe, run!”
He spoke glowingly of McGrath’s military service, which included 89 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He called her run for Congress her “90th mission.”
McGrath said she got into politics because she believes “the country deserves better leaders than we have.”
“Leaders who have the courage to tell the truth, and not just play into people’s fears and continually lie about the other side,” she said.
McGrath has been hesitant to call out Trump by name, since he easily carried the 6th District and won Kentucky by a landslide on his way to the presidency in 2016.
But Biden named the president once or twice, and attacked his foreign policy, Trump’s personal financial interests and the Republican-passed tax cuts.
He drew the biggest applause of the day when he said “the question is not who Donald Trump is, we know who he is. The question is, who are we?”
Barr released a statement Friday ahead of the rally, blaming Biden and former President Barack Obama for the state’s declining coal industry.
“Kentuckians should remember it was Obama and Biden who drove our economy into the ground with punishing taxes on the middle class and small businesses,” the statement said.
The rally drew about 2,000 people according to the McGrath campaign.
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