Grimes dismisses GOP complaints about her Rand Paul ‘beaten’ joke
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes jokes about Rand Paul’s attack at Friday’s Democratic bean supper. Louisville Courier Journal
Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Monday that Kentucky Republicans need to get a tougher hide after some of them criticized one of her jokes about U.S. Sen. Rand Paul leading up to Fancy Farm.
Grimes, who is a rumored gubernatorial candidate in 2019, used the Democrats’ annual bean supper in Marshall County on Friday night to make a crack about Kentucky’s junior senator being assaulted.
“Many folks say that Rand Paul can’t be beat, they’re worried he might be too well-liked,” Grimes said. “I don’t buy that. Just ask his neighbor, he can be beaten.”
Grimes was referring to an incident last year when Rene Boucher, a retired doctor and Paul’s neighbor in Bowling Green, tackled the senator while he was mowing his lawn because of a dispute over piles of leaves and sticks on the property line.
Paul was hospitalized with injuries, including bruised lungs and five broken ribs. Boucher was sentenced to 30 days in jail, one year of supervised release and 100 hours of community service in federal court in June.
Kathy Sargeant, the chairwoman of the Hardin County Republican Party of Kentucky, said the comment wasn’t funny.
“Desperate for attention, Grimes tries to make physically attacking elected officials a punchline,” Sargeant said on Twitter. “#FancyFarm has always been a place for lighthearted digs during political speeches and she not only missed the mark by a mile, but was low, even for her.”
Grimes dismissed the GOP outrage in an interview Monday. She said she hasn’t seen Republicans apologize for any of the jokes or comments they made over Fancy Farm weekend.
“Everybody needs to go in there with thick skin,” Grimes told the Courier Journal.
Grimes didn’t use the joke about the Paul assault on stage Saturday at the actual picnic, which held at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in the small town of Fancy Farm. Elected officials and candidates often use the party events held prior to the picnic to test their one-liners.
Grimes also didn’t use the joke about Paul at the Democratic breakfast on Saturday morning.
Democrats who assembled at Kentucky Dam Convention Center for the dinner on Friday reacted favorably to the joke with a mixture of laughter and hooting. The dinner’s emcee, former MSNBC host Krystal Ball, acknowledged the comment after Grimes spoke, laughing, “that Rand Paul line — wow.”
Republicans pounced on Grimes immediately, with some saying it crossed the line on a weekend where Kentucky politicians are known to throw sharp elbows.
“What kind of disgusting comment is this? One that’s not uncommon among the unhinged left wing of” Kentucky Democrats, tweeted Jake Cox, a Republican Party researcher.
“This is so beyond embarrassing and disgusting for (Kentucky Democrats) to promote this behavior,” he added in another.
But Doug Stafford, Paul’s chief strategist, followed Grimes’ joke with a barb of his own on social media. He slammed Grimes’ poor performance in her failed 2014 U.S. Senate bid against Republican Mitch McConnell.
“That’s almost as sad and pathetic as her last campaign,” Stafford said on Twitter. “Mitch beat her so bad he almost got charged with a hate crime.”
McConnell beat Grimes by 16 points and won 110 of 120 Kentucky counties.
Paul did not attend Fancy Farm, a 138-year-old picnic in Western Kentucky, because he was preparing for a trip Monday to Russia to be a “proponent of diplomacy,” according to a spokesman.
Grimes connected Paul’s visit to his vocal support of President Donald Trump and his relationship with the Russian government. She joked that Paul was going to Russia this weekend, “looking for a campaign manager.”
Here are some of the one-liners Grimes doled out at Saturday’s picnic. On Monday, she said she writes her own material.
► “Not only am I having a baby this year, but I also have a big birthday. Forty will not only be my age, it’s (Gov.) Matt Bevin’s dream approval rating.”
► “Right now Mitch (McConnell) had to leave because he is very busy rushing a Supreme Court vote. It is so sad, like many men, he suffers from premature confirmation, and like a man, he claims it never happens to him.”
► “I dream of a Kentucky where every woman can safely open a text message from Jeff Hoover and our Republican legislators.” (She was referring to a sexual harassment scandal that rocked the legislature and led to Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover stepping down from his leadership post.)
Reporter Kate Talerico contributed to this story. Reporter Phillip M. Bailey can be reached at 502-582-4475 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Thomas Novelly: email@example.com, 502-582-4465. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/tomn.
Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ full 2018 Fancy Farm speech. Jeff Faughender, Louisville Courier Journal