LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Democratic
challenger Steve Beshear claimed the high ground on issues ranging
from abortion to health insurance coverage for children as the two
rivals spoke to core supporters during rallies Thursday.
Speaking to several hundred Democrats at a raucous rally at a
union hall in Louisville, Beshear claimed it was "immoral" for
Fletcher's administration to allow 81,000 Kentucky children to go
without health coverage.
"When we get elected, we're going to make sure that every child
in this state has the kind of health care coverage they need to
grow up and be productive adults," Beshear said.
Earlier in the day, Fletcher pounded away at Beshear on social
issues vital to his conservative base during a stop at a Christian
center in Brandenburg in north central Kentucky.
Fletcher told about 80 cheering supporters that there's a
"significant difference" between him and Beshear on abortion,
school prayer and public posting of the Ten Commandments.
The Republican governor is an ordained Baptist minister, while
Beshear is the son of a Baptist preacher. Kentucky voters will
decide on Nov. 6 which of them will lead the state for the next
four years. Fletcher, who is seeking a second term, trailed Beshear
by 15 percentage points in a Lexington Herald-Leader/Action News 36
Election Poll released Thursday.
Responding to Fletcher's emphasis on values, Beshear called
himself "a small-town boy" and said his parents taught him the
values of "faith and responsibility."
Beshear campaign spokeswoman Vicki Glass said Fletcher had
created "an ethical mess" during his term.
Fletcher was indicted as part of an investigation into whether
his administration violated state hiring laws in an alleged scheme
to reward political supporters with state jobs.
The indictment later was dropped in a settlement with
prosecutors. Fletcher and at least 14 of his aides and associates
were indicted. Fletcher issued pardons for everyone except himself.
Fletcher has criticized the probe as a political witch hunt.
Jeff Nott, a Meade County farmer attending the Fletcher rally,
called the governor "a Christian guy" and said he didn't hold the
hiring investigation against Fletcher.
"It was just a political move" by Fletcher opponents, Nott
For Fletcher, the stop at the Glad Tidings Christian Center was
one of several during a hectic day of campaigning. Beshear and
others on the Democratic statewide ticket appeared at the rally
Thursday evening in Louisville, a key Democratic stronghold.
Beshear was upbeat about the latest poll showing he still had a
double-digit lead, but tempered it with a warning that Republicans
"will throw every bit of mud they can at us." Beshear promised
that he would fight back.
"For every dishonest attack that Ernie Fletcher makes on us,
we're just going to tell the truth about Ernie Fletcher," Beshear
told the cheering crowd. "And that truth is worse than any
dishonest attack he can ever make on us."
Beshear also said it was "immoral" to allow situations in
which financially strapped older Kentuckians have to choose between
buying food or medication.
If elected, he promised to provide state support so they can
afford their medication.
In stressing social issues, Fletcher reminded the Christian
center crowd earlier in the day that the first bill he signed into
law was a measure that created a new crime for people who
criminally cause the deaths of unborn babies.
"The pro-abortion people were concerned because it recognized
the unborn child as having some rights," said Fletcher, an
Beshear opposes abortions after the first trimester, but
believes decisions about abortions should be left to families, not
Fletcher also tried to capitalize on Beshear's role years ago in
a dispute over posting the Ten Commandments in public schools.
Years ago, Beshear was attorney general when the U.S. Supreme
Court struck down a Kentucky law requiring the Ten Commandments be
posted in public school classrooms. Beshear first tried to avoid
ruling on whether the Ten Commandments already in classrooms had to
come down, but eventually ordered them removed.
Fletcher then suggested that pupils should be allowed to say a
voluntary prayer as part of public assemblies in schools.
"I'm talking about free expression of your faith," Fletcher
Throughout the campaign, Fletcher has focused on Beshear's
support for legalizing casinos in Kentucky as a moral issue.
Beshear supports amending the state constitution to allow for
limited casino gambling in Kentucky, a plan he says would raise
about $500 million for state government to spend on such things as
health care and education.
Fletcher, who opposes the plan, said Kentuckians would have to
lose $1.5 billion to generate the state revenue envisioned by
Fletcher acknowledged that Kentuckians already gamble huge sums
at casinos in other states, but added "two wrongs don't make a
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)