The state of Kentucky banned cockfighting years ago, but police have been known to look the other way when chickens have been forced to fight.
Activists who support cockfighting met in Corbin, Ky., on March 29 to discuss legalizing the brutal spectacle.
A reporter from WAVE 3 News went undercover at the meeting and found Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Matt Bevin speaking to a crowd of more than 700 people (video below).
Bevin, a Tea Party favorite, is challenging U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in the GOP primary.
"There is not a cause, there is not an issue, nothing we believe in that we could not bring to fruition if we turn out to vote," said Bevin.
American Gamefowl Defense Director Dave Devereaux asked Bevin, "Will you vote to support the effort to legalize gamecock fighting in the state of Kentucky?"
"I support the people of Kentucky exercising their right, because it is our right to decide what it is that we want to do, and not the federal government's," said Bevin. "Criminalizing behavior, if it's part of the heritage of this state, is in my opinion a bad idea. A bad idea. I will not support it."
Later, State Representative Richard Henderson told the audience that he supported legalizing cockfighting in the state, and added, "I bet on chickens. I must admit I've been to more than a few chicken fights. I must admit I liked them."
When asked about appearing at the cockfighting event, Bevin told The New Journal that he thought it was a "states' rights rally."
WAVE 3 News recently asked Henderson and Bevin if they support cockfighting.
"The media misconstrues everything I say," complained Henderson.
"I don't personally support cockfighting, never been to a cockfight in my life," Bevin. "If you were there, you can tell, when I was speaking, were you there when I spoke?"
"I was there to speak about why I'm running for U.S. Senate. That's the same thing I do everywhere I speak," added Bevin.
The news reporter reminded Bevin, "When Dave Devereaux got up before you, he said, 'We're here for the sole purpose of talking about legalizing cockfighting in Kentucky.' What were you thinking when he said that?"
"I honestly wasn't even paying attention," claimed Bevin. "I was thinking about what I was going to say. I don't even remember him saying that."
When asked about his comments again, Bevin quickly changed the subject, "What I stand behind is people's ability to examine their First Amendment rights to speak about whatever they want to speak about."