Grimes frames her argument: that McConnell has 'gone Washington'

07/30/2013 08:49 PM

Alison Lundergan Grimes teed up her “time for a change” theme to a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters in Lexington on Tuesday as she outlined reasons why Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has overstayed his time in Washington.

“The biggest problem with Sen. McConnell is that in his quest for power in our nation’s capitol, he has literally gone Washington,” said Grimes, who is the fourth Democrat to announce her intent to run for U.S. Senate next year and is the presumptive frontrunner for the nomination. “He has let the people of the commonwealth fall behind.”

At another point, Grimes described Washington as suffering from a “disease of dysfunction.”

“After nearly 30 years, Mitch McConnell is in the center of it,” she said.

In her first campaign speech to Kentucky voters since first announcing on July 1, Grimes spoke for 18 minutes about her background and why she believes McConnell should go. She offered only a light sketch of her positions on issues.

She touched on points she raised before with reporters, including that she has reservations about parts of the Affordable Care Act but that critics should offer alternatives instead of pushing for repeal and that she supports the coal industry and its miners.

She also said broadly that the federal government should “balance the budget the right way” but cutting spending but not for programs that can invest in the nation’s future, such as education.

“I will work for you, not the special interests, not the lobbyists and not the national party leaders,” she said as she wrapped up her remarks.

Grimes also related a story that she said was “the heart of why I’m here tonight.” She told the Lexington crowd that Mary Jackson, a LaRue County resident who was the first African-American in Kentucky elected to head the teacher’s association for military schools, traveled to Washington D.C. to speak with McConnell only to be told that he did not have time for her.

“Our senior senator looked at her told her she was in the wrong place (and) showed her to the door, but before closing the door in her face grabbed a quick photo, which made its way back to Kentucky before Mary could make her way back home,” Grimes said.

Jackson, Grimes said, did urge her to take on the five-term incumbent. And Jackson attended the rally.

A who’s who of Kentucky Democrats attended the event including: Attorney General Jack Conway, Auditor Adam Edelen, Gov. Steve Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, former Gov. Julian Carroll, Gov. Martha Layne Collins, former Gov. Paul Patton.

Former President Bill Clinton recorded a speech to the crowd saying that the kick off was just the beginning and told Grimes she “can win it”, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth also recorded remarks for the event, and former Governor and U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford sent a letter which Grimes sister read.

McConnell’s campaign, meanwhile, issued a new video criticizing Grimes for what the campaign called a “rough month” since announcing her intent to run on July 1.

And the Republican group Kentuckians for Strong Leadership also fed into that theme with a web ad playing off the “What rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes” theme. The group’s answer: Not ready for prime time.


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