Sep. 21—FLATWOODS — Kelly Craft is no stranger to politics. She was appointed by President Donald Trump as the first female Ambassador to Canada, and while there she negotiated the largest trade deal in American history between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“I was privileged to see the number of workers in every state and how this agreement with Mexico and Canada was going to benefit them,” said the Republican. “And of course, I was particularly interested in Kentucky, and I would say to President Trump that we needed to take care of our workers. and he was always concerned about our farmers and workers, and he would always ask me about our coal miners.”
Craft, a 2022 Kentucky gubernatorial candidate, said Monday morning at a speaking engagement in Flatwoods at Pappy’s Cookin’ that she always believed that the heart of Kentucky was its people.
“I was grateful to be able to negotiate this trade deal before COVID,” Craft said, adding that she could only imagine how bad it would have been for the state and the country without it. “Going into it during or after COVID would have been much worse on the economy.”
Following her tenure as Ambassador to Canada, Craft said she entered the “real snake pit” of the United Nations. Craft said she moved from Canada to New York City at the request of President Trump after the previous ambassador resigned, and that her comparison to a snake pit contained very little exaggeration. It was a sobering thing to sit across from dictators and warlords, from people who were waiting for America to fail so that they could take its place.
Craft said she regularly tells people that no country or world power can actually replace the United States, but that any government that does not respect the rule of law is waiting to make the attempt.
In a striking counterpoint, Craft said it was her experience growing up around he kitchen table in Glasgow that prepared her to sit at negotiating tables with people from around the world such as Israel for peace, discussing the Abraham Accords for peace in the Middle East, or speaking with women refugees from the South Sudan about the issues they have faced.
“That kitchen table served not only for communion, but for community,” Craft said. “And it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it is your kitchen table that is the most sacred place in your home.”
That sanctity is something Craft said she wants to bring to Kentucky if elected Governor.
“So, I am starting out my kitchen table tour here in Flatwoods,” Craft said. “My husband is in the energy business, so we are interested in low-cost energy. Under the Trump Administration we were energy-independent. It took the Biden Administration about three hours to shut down the Keystone pipeline, so we go from being independent to dependent.”
Craft said she realizes the importance of independence, which is something she believes reliance upon foreign oil will make impossible.
Craft also told those present that independence also includes being independent of government aid. She said Kentucky and the country need to be independent of the ravages of the drug pandemic, and have the dignity provided by a job that pays a living wage. The latter, she said, teaches the next generation the value of work as well as draws in business and increases the quality of life.
“It grows the community,” Craft said. “And that’s what I am here for. I know Kentucky can do better because I know how good we are.”
Craft said the key she learned growing up was listening and learning before speaking.
“That’s my job — to listen,” she said. “The citizens need to have more of a say in their local government. School boards, for instance, are vital, and people need to be more engaged.”
Craft said people also need to be more engaged in the election of their local officials.
The kitchen table is also the place where you come bringing everything, and everyone hopefully leaves better informed and enriched than when they arrived, Craft said.
“We need transparency and responsibility in government,” she said. “We need to demand accountability because it is your taxpaying dollars. and to be an elected official, and use our taxpayer dollars in the State of Kentucky, we need a criteria list. We need to make sure that people’s roads and all the transportation issues are taken care of in order to build our communities. and we’ve got to create jobs and have accountability. When you have transparency and accountability, you’ll see effectiveness. It’s not easy sometimes, but it has to be done.”
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