Clinton, Grimes urge Owensboro crowd to volunteer with Election Day two weeks away

10/21/2014 07:53 PM

OWENSBORO — Former President Bill Clinton made his third lap around the track in Kentucky’s neck-and-neck U.S. Senate race, imploring a throng of supporters Tuesday to help push Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes first across the finish line in two weeks.

Minutes after Grimes called herself a “Kentucky filly,” the 42nd U.S. president offered his own equine analogy. Every election cycle, Clinton said, “I feel like an old racehorse.”

“They got me in a nice barn, and when it’s election season, they come in, they give me an extra bale of hay,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd of some 3,000 at the Owensboro Convention Center. “Somebody comes in and brushes my coat, and then they drag me out to the track, and they slap me on the rear to see if I can get around that track just one more time.

“I want you to know I’m running around this track for Alison because I know she’d be the best for you.”

Clinton’s third stop in Kentucky may be his most important with the election two weeks away and the latest Bluegrass Poll released Monday showing McConnell, running for a sixth term in office, with a 1 percent lead on Grimes, within the survey’s 3.9 percent margin of error. McConnell has led in nearly every public poll in recent months, with the senator averaging a 4.4 percent lead according to Real Clear Politics.

Clinton, Grimes and other speakers urged attendees to volunteer in the campaign’s waning days to ensure the Democratic faithful hit the polls in support of Grimes Nov. 4.

They also took a fair number of jabs at McConnell. Clinton referenced back to news reports of McConnell telling a group of conservative donors that if Republicans take control of the Senate and elect him majority leader the chamber would not debate “gosh darn proposals” like raising the minimum wage.

He also scolded McConnell for calling the 2002 passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law “the worst day of my political life.”

“How could that be the worst day of your life, even if you thought it was a bad idea?” Clinton asked. “That was worse than 9/11? That was worse than the day we had the biggest crash since the Great Depression? That was worse when you lost 30,000 jobs in coal in the eight years of the previous presidency, of the Bush presidency?

“That was worse than… You name it. I can think of a thousand things that were worse, and I’m not mad. I’m sad. Don’t you think it’s sad? Wouldn’t you feel sick if you spent 30 years representing Kentucky in the Senate and the worst day of your life was when there was an honest attempt to limit black-bag operations from foreign billionaires from buying your elections?”

Clinton, who was scheduled to attend a similar rally with Grimes in Paducah later Tuesday, touted Grimes’ support to increase the federal minimum wage and promote pay equity for women before turning his attention to the message of the day: turning out the vote in two weeks. That theme echoes one promoted last week by his wife, former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, at a campaign rally in Louisville.

“Come on, this is an easy decision,” Clinton said. “If you’re doing what’s best for Kentucky, it’s an easy decision.”

In response, McConnell’s campaign pointed to a CNN story on some employees at Lexington restaurant Hugh Jass Burgers, co-owned by Grimes’ father, former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, earning minimum wage as counterintuitive to Grimes’ pledge to increase base pay from $7.25 per hour.

“It’s a good thing there are only two weeks left until the election because Alison Lundergan Grimes’ blunder of a campaign has finally hit rock bottom,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement. “Kentuckians have already figured out that Grimes relies on false attacks and baseless claims when she has either lost her Obama policy manual, her hypocrisy has again been exposed, or when she’s trying to cover up her dad’s purchase of Silent Bob’s bus for her campaign to ride in luxury.”

Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state who has faced criticism for her refusal to answer questions on whether she voted for President Barack Obama, again proclaimed Kentucky a “Clinton country” and herself “a Clinton Democrat,” including a nod to former Democratic U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, who was in attendance Tuesday but did not appear.

She said Clinton had two hopes at the beginning of the year, with one already fulfilled: becoming a grandfather.

“I told him I couldn’t do anything about that,” Grimes said to laughter from the crowd. “The second was to get rid of Mitch McConnell, so Kentucky, are we ready to say farewell to Mitch McConnell?”

Grimes is banking on a large turnout in her hopes of unseating McConnell, holding a volunteer card as she wrapped up her speech and imploring the crowd to volunteer in the next two weeks.

“Sign up and give us your time, talking neighbor to neighbor,” she said. “He (McConnell) can buy the airwaves, but he hasn’t bought the hearts and minds of each and every one of you, going door-to-door, talking with your friends and family. That’s how we bring this election home. I do believe each and every one of you, you’ve made the right bet on this Kentucky filly. We are coming down the home stretch and we are nose-to-nose, and Mitch McConnell keeps trying to take my garland of roses.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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