For Kentucky Public Radio
Published THU OCTOBER 16, 2014
By RAE HODGE
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell discussed his views on climate change and foreign policy in a campaign stop Thursday afternoon with more than 80 members of the Young Professionals Association of Louisville.
During a lengthy speech on foreign policy, McConnell pleaded the case for further military engagement in Iraq, criticizing President Obama for a withdrawal of ground troops from the region.
“At some point, somebody is going to have to take this back on the ground.” McConnell said, though he emphasized the importance of further training for Iraqi troops. “Had we aided the Syrian rebels three years ago, I don’t know that they would have won, but they might have, and so we’re in a heck of a tough spot now.”
On Monday night, McConnell criticized Democratic senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who calls herself a “Clinton Democrat,” by saying “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between a Clinton democrat and an Obama Democrat.”
At Thursday’s luncheon, however, McConnell said there is a difference.
“I can remember both Al Gore and Bill Clinton supporting the Persian Gulf War in 1991 because they did not want to be thought of as a George McGovern Democrat, because that whole mindset had been discredited earlier,” said McConnell.
“So Obama was the McGovern Democrat and Clinton was the sort of hawkish Democrat.”
As he has done throughout his campaign, McConnell only briefly addressed Grimes, avoiding her platform directly, and instead focusing his attacks on President Obama.
“My opponent will be a new face for the status quo,” he said of Grimes.
McConnell, who tends to avoid discussion of global climate change in his addresses, typically steers his answers toward the impact that environmental regulations could have on Kentucky’s coal industry.
McConnell took on the topic directly Thursday. On one hand, he maintained that the U.S. would be alone in implementing carbon emission regulation, making the effort fruitless globally and injuring Kentucky’s coal industry. On the other hand, he noted that while German coal imports are on the rise, the country maintains strict environmental regulations.
“Even if you feel that’s an important thing, it’s also noteworthy that no one else is going to do it. Germany, which is the greenest country in Europe, is now importing coal,” he said, before going on to list the rises in Chinese, Indian, and Australian coal production.
“So even if you believe this is an important issue, our country doing it all by ourselves is going to be about as effective as dropping a pebble in the ocean,” McConnell said.
YPAL public relations director Stephanie Rowe said Grimes will attend a similar luncheon with the organization next week.