By Daniel Desrochers

Democratic candidates for federal office in Kentucky criticized Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday for suggesting last weekend that blood might someday need to be shed if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election, going so far as to suggest impeachment.

In his off-the-cuff speech Saturday at the Values Voters forum in Washington, D.C., Bevin referenced a famous quote by Thomas Jefferson as he spoke about whether the nation could survive a Clinton presidency.

"I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots," Bevin said. "Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something that we, through our apathy and our indifference, have given away."

Democrats pounced, saying Bevin's speech was a call to arms for conservatives.

Jim Gray, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Rand Paul, called on Bevin to apologize.

"Using religion as a tool of violence and frightening people has no place in politics," Gray said in a statement. "Frightened people do dangerous things, and encouraging fear and violence is absolutely wrong."

Nancy Jo Kemper, the Democrat who faces U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, in Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, went a step further, calling for Bevin's impeachment by the Kentucky legislature.

When asked to clarify his comments Monday, Bevin indicated that he was talking about military sacrifice against terrorists.

"We cannot be complacent about the determination of radical Islamic extremists to destroy our freedoms," Bevin said in a statement. "Nor can we allow apathy and indifference to allow our culture to crumble from within. We need strong leadership at every level of government to defend our Constitution and our republic. We must fight to preserve the exceptionalism and the promise of America, because America is worth it."

(c)2016 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)