"[I]t's hard to imagine anyone accidentally stumbling into a cockfighting meet-up. Even the event’s organizers said there was 'never any ambiguity' about why they were rallying, which was to advocate for making cockfighting legal," the group said in a statement on its website. "Bevin's claims about not knowing ring hollow, as he is now parroting the language of anyone who defends animal cruelty but masks their true intent by speaking of 'states' rights."
Bevin explained that as a candidate for Senate, he welcomes all speaking opportunities.
"I’m a politician running statewide, any chance I get to speak to a few hundred people I’m going to take it," he said, according to the News Journal of Corbin, Kentucky.
He also told the Lexington Herald-Leader he thinks cockfighting is a state issue, not a federal one, which the Humane Society slammed.
"The fact is, both the federal government and the states have a big role to play in cracking down on this form of intentional, malicious cruelty to animals," it added, noting Kentucky is one of the few states where cockfighting is only a misdemeanor, not a felony.
"Matt Bevin showed appalling judgment in associating himself with this band of lawbreakers and perpetrators of unspeakable animal cruelty. He’s brought discredit upon the state of Kentucky, and he should withdraw from the Senate race."
The host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" has also called into question Bevin's excuse.
"I don't know how you accidentally stumble into a cockfighting rally," Joe Scarborough said Thursday morning.
Clarification: the Humane Society Legislative Action Fund, not the Humane Society, called for Bevin to drop out of the race.