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Kentucky gubernatorial candidate lied about not campaigning after Louisville mass shooting

Republican candidate Kelly Craft reportedly held two events right after the April 10 shooting that left five dead.

By Josh Israel - May 03, 2023
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Kelly Craft
Kelly Craft, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, stands on the steps of the Barren County Courthouse to announce her candidacy for Kentucky governor in Glasgow, Ky., Sept. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft was asked recently about criticism of her appearances at campaign events on April 10 after a mass shooting at a Louisville, Kentucky, bank had left five dead and at least eight injured. Craft responded by falsely claiming that the gatherings were not campaign events.

Craft, a GOP megadonor who served as former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Canada and to the United Nations, appeared on the April 16 episode of “Kentucky Newsmakers” on Lexington television station WKYT and was pressed by host Bill Bryant about whether she had considered stopping her campaign events in light of the tragedy.

“We did not have the campaign event,” Craft answered. “It was actually right after in the afternoon. We went to the event and we all prayed. We had a minister there, matter of fact we had two ministers there. And we prayed and everyone talked because everyone had already gathered at the event. So we just made a stop in.”

In a televised campaign debate on May 1, moderator Renee Shaw asked Craft: “Besides giving thoughts and prayers and accolades for the Louisville Metro Police Department’s quick response — we know they responded within three minutes of getting the first call about that tragedy — did you pause your campaign activities and visit the city of Louisville to share in the collective grief of that community? Why or why not?”

Craft responded without addressing the question: “I immediately texted Louisville Mayor Greenberg to offer my condolences. We were traveling, and you know, I was traveling with Riley Gaines that day, and she felt Kentucky. Because she had just had the heartache of having a shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, so she understood the heartache and the pain that Kentuckians were suffering.”

Riley Gaines is a former University of Kentucky swimmer who frequently speaks out against transgender athletes participating in girls’ and women’s sports.

When Shaw asked Craft, “Are you for any measures that would possibly help to reduce or eliminate these types of incidents from happening?” Craft answered: “Renee, I am not touching the Second Amendment and due process. We need to make certain that we follow the rules that are currently written. And we have to open the conversation of mental health, of mental illness.” 

According to Louisville Public Media, Craft did appear at a rally held at a Middletown pizza restaurant after the shooting occurred, alongside Gaines. The candidate spoke about her opposition to transgender rights. “She was born to be here for every young girl and woman in our country, and to make certain that we keep our sports fair,” Craft said in her introduction of Gaines. According to WKYU, the two shared condolences to the families of the shooting victims, but Craft would not answer questions about gun safety measures, saying: “I don’t think today is an appropriate time to be talking about anything other than the loss of these lives and those who are in critical condition.”

WBKO covered the second event, held that evening at a Bowling Green pizza and wings restaurant. It noted that in addition to talking about her anti-transgender positions, Craft called for the death penalty for drug dealers who sell fentanyl and for drastic changes to the Kentucky Board of Education. “Every child is going to receive a quality education, not an education on critical race theory, but an education that will help them to fulfill their potential,” she said.

A campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation request for comment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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