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Bevin, Beshear square off during Harlan festival

A gubernatorial race that appears to be growing in hostility as the election approaches on Nov. 5 made a stop in Harlan on Saturday afternoon during the Harlan County Bicentennial Celebration.

Incumbent Matt Bevin, the Republican nominee, and Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, the Democratic nominee, followed familiar themes in their speeches at the new stage outside the Harlan Center, buoyed by enthusiastic supporters from both sides.

Bevin focused on his connection with President Donald Trump and his opposition to abortion, both popular stances in Kentucky, and challenged Beshear’s ability to create jobs for Kentuckians, noting he had helped “create 57,000 jobs in Kentucky,” while Beshear had never “created a single job.”

The governor drew applause from his supporters when he began his speech by talking about eight pro-life pieces of legislation passed while he has been governor.

“Human life is a God-given right,” said Bevin, who said he was pro life and accused Beshear of taking “blood money” from people supporting abortion.

Bevin also said his connection to the president also helps Kentucky and had “spent more time in Kentucky than any other president.”

When a Beshear supporter accused him of riding the president’s coattails, he noted that he won 106 of 120 counties in the last election, before Trump was president.

Beshear, who arrived at the speech led by a caravan of supporters with signs, talked about breaking down political barriers in Kentucky.

“It’s not about Democrat vs Republican or right vs left,” said Beshear, the son of former governor Steve Beshear. “We need someone who is for all Kentucky families. I will fight for the lost, lonely and left behind.”

Beshear also focused on the governor’s battles with teachers around the state and his support of vouchers and charter schools.

“I support fully funding public education and respecting teachers,” he said.

Beshear also talked about creating jobs in eastern Kentucky and protecting miners and criticized Bevin for not helping the Blackjewel miners by having a bond to require payment.

Mike Harmon and Sherry Donahue, candidates for Kentucky’s auditor, spoke after the gubernatorial candidates.