LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With Election Day just over a month away, Democrat Amy McGrath is entering the final stage of her campaign against longtime U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Louisville.
The former Marine fighter pilot, who has attracted nationwide attention and tens of millions of dollars in donations from around the country, joined Spectrum News 1’s Kayla Moody Thursday for a conversation about issues in Washington, here in the Commonwealth, and in her own life.
McConnell’s campaign has portrayed McGrath as a supporter of “violent mobs that threaten to put Kentucky families at risk,” but she told Moody, “I would never, ever advocate for violence or destruction of property, or looting.” She also said she does not support defunding the police.
McGrath acknowledged that “we need to work on racial justice.” Among the police reform efforts she supports are the expanded use of body cameras and a national database that prevents officers from being dismissed from one department and promptly hired by another.
In the Democratic primary, McGrath was criticized by her opponents for failing to show up on the front lines of the protests for racial justice that have swelled around the country this summer, and in Louisville in particular.
Asked if she regrets not getting involved sooner, McGrath said, “I have been demonstrating. I have been out there, all around Kentucky, talking and listening to folks who are standing up for Black Lives Matter.” That listening, she said, has helped her develop plans regarding racial justice and equality for all.
McGrath has faced criticism, especially from the left, for promoting her alignment with President Trump on certain issues. Early in her campaign, it led to some calling her a “Trump Democrat.” Asked if that is an accurate characterization of her as a candidate, McGrath said “I put my country ahead of my political party.”
She said she agrees with Trump on instituting Congressional term limits, passing infrastructure legislation, and lowering the price of prescription drugs. “It’s not about wearing a red jersey or a blue jersey,” she said. “Let’s get people in office who are going to do what’s right for Kentucky and do what people need. That’s what I’m all about.”
A mother of three young children — ages 8, 6, and 4 — McGrath told Moody that “like all families right now, we’re struggling with school.”
Talking about the pandemic with her children, McGrath said, has also presented challenges. “My four-year-old, almost every day, she says ‘Is the virus gone yet?'”
“It didn’t have to be this way,” she said, citing some steps she’d take to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again. “Let’s invest in public health. Let’s change the way we look at this. Let’s not politicize mask wearing. These are the types of things we need to make sure we don’t do this again.”
An Irish Catholic, McGrath grew up attending Catholic schools in Northern Kentucky and told Moody that her faith pushes her to work for “social justice.”
“It’s about making sure that we don’t forget about the people who are left behind,” she said. “Things like the dignity of work — making sure that if you work, you should be able to have a wage that you could put food on the table and live a good life. Making sure that healthcare is a priority. Making sure that we take care of the environment. Workers rights. Making sure that we try to tackle poverty and take care of the least among us. That’s what my faith has taught us.”
“I think this race is about healthcare,” McGrath said. Like Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, she supports a public option that would allow any American to buy into a government-run health care plan. “That’s the same type of thing that I buy for my family,” she said. “That’s what Congress gets. I think you ought to be able to have access to that.”
She also accused McConnell of trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which she said could result in a quarter of a million Kentuckians getting “thrown off their health care.”