As long as McConnell has Obama to run against, supporters say they're not worried about poll numbers

02/10/2014 07:05 PM

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell might have a slightly lower job approval rating in Kentucky than President Barack Obama, according to the Bluegrass Poll , but that’s not stopping him from continuing to use the president as a foil.

In fact, if McConnell’s recent schedule of stops in Kentucky is any indication, he’s betting his re-election on the fact that Kentuckians will pick him over Obama in November. On Friday Jan. 31, McConnell held another health care town hall at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington to underscore his criticism of the Affordable Care Act. And on Saturday, McConnell stopped in Hazard and Madisonville to repeat many of his best lines slamming the Obama administration for its regulation of mine permits and coal-fired power plants.

The trick, though, is convincing voters that a vote for Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is a vote for Obama. On the coal issue, he did that by pointing to some of her contributors, especially the “liberals from Hollywood.”

Is that enough?

McConnell supporters say they’re not concerned about the latest survey numbers showing the five-term Senator with a 32 percent job approval rating or running four points behind Grimes.

It’s early, several Republicans backing McConnell said. And ultimately, McConnell’s seniority and the political weight of Grimes running as a candidate of the same party as an unpopular president will prevail. Here’s a look at why McConnell’s camp isn’t panicking:

McConnell, of course, still must win the Republican nomination on May 20.

Matt Bevin, his chief Republican opponent, has stepped up his campaign appearances. So far, he’s made the argument that McConnell’s 30 years in Washington is too long and that the poll numbers show McConnell can’t win in November.

To find out what other message Bevin plans to deliver to convince Republicans to ditch the man credited for building the modern Kentucky GOP, I asked Bevin at Friday’s Spencer County Lincoln Day dinner what he would do in the U.S. Senate that would be different from McConnell.

“Support the U.S. Constitution,” he said. Here’s more:

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