As she makes her way to Saturday’s Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’ 14 county bus tour made a stop at Rough River Dam State Resort Park on Wednesday afternoon. Enthusiastic Grimes supporters from Breckinridge and Grayson Counties filled one of the conference rooms in the Rough River Lodge, cheering their candidate at every opportunity, as Kentucky’s Secretary of State rallied the crowd with a rousing 12 minute speech.
Despite falling behind her election opponent, five-term Republican incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell, in the latest Bluegrass Poll, 47 percent to 45 percent (margin of error: 4.1 percent), Grimes’ mood was bright and her talking points clear in a post-speech media opportunity.
“(People in Kentucky) are ready for someone who has the message of putting Kentuckians back to work and the plan to get it done; someone who is putting people ahead of partisan political interests,” Grimes said.
Typical in this contentious campaign, Grimes attacked McConnell’s record, painting the Senate Minority Leader as unwilling to help Kentuckians, particularly women, and those who struggle financially.
“He’s going to have to explain to the folks of Kentucky why he’s taken every vote against their interest when it comes to increasing the minimum wage; when it comes to the women of this state; when it comes to our seniors, our veterans; when it comes to not actually believing it’s his job to bring jobs back to the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Grimes emphatically stated. “And contrast (me) to Senator McConnell, I’m not Washington. I’m Kentucky through and through. I know its people, I know our stories … the struggles, especially the families that are struggling, and when I’m honored enough to go to Washington, D.C., I’ll be fighting on their behalf.”
McConnell has, since the beginning of the campaign, attempted to marry Grimes’ platform to that of President Barack Obama, who is not a popular figure in the Bluegrass. The 35-year old Maysville native, though, does not shy from distancing herself from the unpopular Obama, while bombarding McConnell at every opportunity.
“The President and I don’t agree on many things, especially his energy policy, despite what you might hear from Mitch McConnell,” Grimes bluntly said. “The President isn’t on the 2014 election ballot, it’s my name that appears (on the ballot) and that scares Mitch McConnell the most, because we’re holding him accountable for his 30 years of failed leadership.
“I don’t answer to the President, no matter who he or she might be. I will answer to the people of Kentucky, and they are ready for a strong voice who will go fight and grow the middle class."
An issue which shines brightly in the present is immigration reform, as thousands of child refugees stream across the U.S. border, fleeing poverty and civil strife, mostly in Central America and Honduras. Grimes makes no bones about why the immigration problem is still just that; a problem.
“I think the crisis we are seeing at our borders with these children is the result of a Washington, D.C. that isn’t working” Grimes said. “A year ago, comprehensive immigration reform should have been passed, (but) Mitch McConnell actually stood in the way of it … voted against it, coming out of the Senate. Today, had that legislation actually been passed by both the House and the Senate, we perhaps wouldn’t be in this problem. It provided for additional funding and security at our borders, increasing the child trafficking laws … and giving the funding that we need to relieve the backlog amongst our judicial branch, especially as it relates to our immigration cases.
“My hope is that comprehensive immigration reform can be accomplished, but I think that requires getting Mitch McConnell out of Washington, D.C..”
As her time to move on approached – her caravan was due in Hancock County after her Rough River Lodge visit, then on to Owensboro – Grimes seemed genuinely surprised by not only the size of the crowd (in Republican country), but also the full-throated nature of her supporters.
“We are so happy with the turnout here today,” Grimes said. “The energy and momentum with this campaign continues to grow as we are making our way west towards Fancy Farm. Seeing those that are gathered here in this standing-room-only room today; it just shows us that people are ready to have someone that puts the people of this state, instead of partisan political interests, first.”
Grimes, who took a political hit on Tuesday with her strange Iron Dome comment about Israel’s air defense system, will look to close her two-percentage point gap in the polls on Saturday at Fancy Farm, one of the nation’s preeminent candidate get-togethers. But in talking about Fancy Farm and what the day means to her, Grimes couldn’t resist one more swipe at McConnell’s record, and his ability to find Graves County.
“Fancy Farm is near and dear to my heart,” said Grimes, who has for years attended the Fancy Farm Picnic with her father, long-time Democrat power player, Jerry Lundergan. “I grew up going to west Kentucky, and unlike Mitch McConnell, I don’t need a GPS to get there. And I look forward to being on stage with the Senator and continuing to hold him accountable; for his 30 years of failed leadership, the wrong votes he has cast against the interest of Kentucky just to serve himself; all the while hurting the people of this state.”
Grimes with a group of her Grayson County supporters