The absence of many Democrats gave Republicans plenty of fodder at this year's Fancy Farm Picnic. Republicans from U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell down to local legislative candidates took shots at state Democrats and President Barack Obama throughout the event.
“And so I think we ought to take a quick attendance check here as we get started. Governor Beshear are you here," McConnell said, with Republicans in the audience responding with a loud “No.”
McConnell said the absences show why so many Democrats voted for “uncommitted” over Mr. Obama in the state’s primary earlier this year.
One of the few Democrats who did show up unleashed a flurry of verbal assaults on Republicans. House Speaker Greg Stumbo spoke on behalf of Governor Steve Beshear and took shots at the Republicans in attendance.
Stumbo blamed U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell for many of the nation’s problems. And he aimed his other taunts at Republicans at every level, from the statehouse to the top of the ticket, criticizing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's business and tax records.
“The good news is while [Romney] went overseas, he didn’t take any Secret Service with him. He said he felt safe and comfortable visiting his money over there!" Stumbo says.
Republicans took their shots at Stumbo as well, sarcastically thanking him for attending the picnic to defend the president. House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover blasted Democrats for the state’s pension and Medicaid problems, but saved his harshest criticism for Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson.
"Last week I called Mark Wilson and I asked Mark, 'Is there going to be a ribbon cutting ceremony at Fancy Farm?'. And he said 'No, we don't have ribbon cutting ceremonies at Fancy Farm.' And I knew right then Jerry Abramson wouldn't be here," Hoover said.
But Stumbo turned the tables on the unexcused absences argument, criticizing McConnell for leaving quickly after speaking and pointing out that Kentucky's junior senator was nowhere in sight.
“Rand Paul said he couldn’t be here because tea and BBQ don’t mix. But he just right down the road in Bowling Green. And it’s a good thing he’s not here because he’d probably criticize us for all the pork around here today,” Stumbo says.
Attendance at this year’s picnic seemed lower than in recent years, when statewide races topped the ballot in Kentucky. There are no statewide races this year.