POLITICS: PennAve

Ashley Judd calls meeting with Obama 'privileged chitchat'

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Politics,Barack Obama,Mitch McConnell,Tennessee,Campaigns,PennAve,Susan Crabtree

Ashley Judd, the actress and Obama supporter who had mulled a run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said she had no regrets about not challenging the five-term senator.

A native of Kentucky, the actress and political activist was seated alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a Thursday afternoon speech President Obama delivered on education at a Nashville high school.

“At this time, absolutely not,” she told a reporter when asked whether she had any second thoughts about opting out of the race.

She also said she was “grateful” for the certainty about her decisions “because life is not always so tidy.”

“I didn’t understand why at first, because it was a very below the neck experience; it was very guttural,” she said. “I didn’t have an explanation at first but then my life became very clear in terms of my need and desire right now to spend a lot of time with family.”

Before Obama's speech, the president met with Judd and Gore, and separately with the family of 15-year-old Kevin Barbee, a student at the high school who was killed Tuesday.

Judd said she came to the speech because “it's always a privilege to hear the president of the United States speak.”

“I came here as an American and as a fan,” she said, describing her conversation with Obama before the speech as “a privileged chit-chat.”

“We talked about the First Lady’s 50th birthday party, and how fantastic it is just to boogie,” she said. “And the tribute he made to his wife was incredibly loving as well as deeply touching.

For months early last year, Judd had seriously contemplated a run for McConnell's senate seat, stoking fear among Republicans worried she could knock the Senate's top Republicans from both his seat and leadership post.

But after speaking to former Kentucky Sen. Wendell H. Ford, the state's former governor and a Southern political guru of sorts, she changed her mind in March of last year. Some Southern Democrats feared she was too liberal, too “anti-coal” and too Hollywood to represent the state in the Senate.

Judd is the daughter of country music singer Naomi Judd and the half-sister of Winona Judd. She was married to Scottish IndyCar and NASCAR racing driver Dario Franchitti for 12 years but last year the couple announced they planned to divorce.

	 	 	 	
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