The Fastest Two Minutes In Sports No Longer Draws Scores of High-Profile Politicians
Former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz sure made a splash Saturday when he was spotted at Churchill Downs' Millionaire's Row on Saturday for the Kentucky Derby, but he wasn't the only politician in attendance. Although the Kentucky Derby no longer appears to draw presidential candidates as it once did, a few state leaders showed up to rub elbows with Kentucky's own local policymakers during "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports."
The Kentucky Derby has long been a favorite event for celebrities. With big hats, colorful dresses, and great cocktails, what's not to love? But while the race once drew presidential hopefuls — George W. Bush attended with his father in 2000 while Chelsea Clinton reportedly campaigned at Churchill Downs for her mother in 2008 — there was a distinct lack of presidential candidates at this year's race. Texas senator Cruz, who recently ended his presidential campaign, has so far been the only candidate (or should we say, former candidate) spotted enjoying the Derby this year. Cruz was first spotted by the Courier-Journal's Joe Gerth.
It comes as no surprise that Kentucky politicians are regular spectators at the Kentucky Derby. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul were spotted by the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman. Matt Bevin, the state's governor, was also in attendance Saturday and reportedly spent a few minutes chatting with Cruz.
One politician you certainly wouldn't see at the Kentucky Derby this year? President Barack Obama. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the Courier-Journal Obama would not attend the horserace while serving as president, hinting he might be interested in sipping a mint julep trackside next year. "I think what he would say is that having the president attend the Derby would raise such a kerfluffle…because it would be a real inconvenience to everybody else who was trying to go," Earnest said.
Although Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has attended the Kentucky Derby in the past he was scheduled to appear at a campaign event in Washington on the day of the race. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is slated to be on the campaign trail in California, which heads to the polls June 7 to hand out a sizeable chunk of the party's remaining delegates. Sen. Bernie Sanders is reportedly set to begin campaigning in New Jersey on Sunday, making an appearance by him at the race slim.