As Bus Tour, Primary Season Wind Down, Grimes' Criticism of McConnell Ramps Up

May 16, 2014

Alison Lundergan Grimes speaks in front of a crowd of supporters Friday night at Circus Square Park in Bowling Green
Credit Emil Moffatt

Just days away from the Kentucky primary, Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has her eyes fixed on November and a potential general election matchup with incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell.

In front of an estimated crowd of more than 200 supporters Friday evening at Circus Square Park in Bowling Green, Grimes spoke after being introduced by State Rep. Jody Richards. It was the final stop of the day on Grimes' bus tour of Kentucky. 

“The energy, the excitement is contagious,” Grimes said to the crowd.  “I know you are ready, not only for May 20th but to give me enough shoe leather to run all the way until November.”

Grimes’ criticism of McConnell was unrelenting, calling the incumbent the “senator of yesterday.”

“Yesterday’s view of minimum wage, yesterday’s view against women getting equal pay for equal work. Yesterday’s view against actually bringing funding here for our universities, yesterday’s view against actually realizing it’s the job of a U.S. Senator to actually bring jobs to this state,” said Grimes.

Several times, Grimes referenced the interview Sen. McConnell gave last month to an eastern Kentucky newspaper, The Beattyville Enterprise in which he was quoted as saying “it’s not my job” in response to a question about bringing jobs to Lee County. McConnell insists the quote was specifically about economic development in Lee County, which he claimed was a “Frankfort issue” and is the “primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet”

In an interview with Kentucky Public Radio, McConnell said the newspaper reporter left with out hearing the speech, which McConnell says, was focused entirely on job creation. McConnell blames President Obama for thousands of lost jobs in Kentucky and touts his own record of saving  Kentucky jobs.

Just after Grimes’ appearance in Bowling Green news came that the latest Bluegrass Poll, showed her with a one percentage point lead over McConnell in a general election matchup, in a poll with a margin of error of plus-or-minus four.  In Tuesday’s primary matchup with Tea Party-backed Matt Bevin, McConnell has a 20 percentage point lead among likely Republican voters. The Bluegrass Poll is a collaborative effort by the Courier-Journal, Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV.

“Despite the millions of dollars that Mitch McConnell has spent trying to buy this election, Kentuckians, resoundingly, especially here in West Kentucky, are saying ‘this election isn’t up for sale, we won’t be bought. We’re ready for a fresh face and a loud voice,’” said Grimes

Later, aboard the bus that is in the process of taking her on a 10-day tour of 50 Kentucky counties, Grimes offered views on the major theme of her campaign: jobs.

On minimum wage legislation, she rejected arguments that raising the minimum wage would cost jobs and hurt business owners. Grimes cited studies that claim a minimum wage bump would increase the income of 1-in-4 Kentuckians and “help create over 2,000 good-paying jobs”.  

“When we increase the minimum wage, as President Bill Clinton has shown, we actually help to grow the middle class and help put hard-working Kentuckians back to work,” said Grimes.

While McConnell’s campaign continues to blast the Obama administration for its so called “war on coal”, Grimes is attempting to turn the tables and hold McConnell accountable for the jobs lost in eastern and western Kentucky.

“We’ve gone without the funding for clean-coal technology because of his votes against an omnibus bill. On Mitch McConnell’s watch, we’ve seen the EPA’s over-burdensome regulations implemented. It’s time that we hold Mitch McConnell accountable for what’s occurred under his watch.”

Grimes says her approach would be to diversify the economy in eastern and western Kentucky by pouring money into industrial parks and increasing Internet connectivity.

Expanding broadband access has been an issue also supported by McConnell as part of the SOAR initiative in eastern Kentucky.

Grimes’ bus tour continues this weekend and concludes on Tuesday, the day of the Kentucky primary.