McConnell campaign's primary focus is on Grimes -- not the primary, manager says

07/31/2013 09:57 PM

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said a tea party challenge is a nuisance that can’t be ignored but that the general election against a Democratic opponent is “by far” the most important focus.

Benton said he believes Bevin was “pushed” into the race because of the high profile nature of the campaign by consultants who saw Bevin’s deep pockets as a big payday. And he said that even though the McConnell campaign started hitting Bevin on his business background in ads on the day Bevin announced his run, the campaign isn’t worried about the challenge.

“The most important thing we are focusing on right now is quite frankly the Democrat race, that’s by far the most important thing,” Benton said (at 10:00). “We see this primary as something that we do have to pay attention to but really more of a minor nuisance.”

Specifically, the McConnell campaign is focused on Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic secretary of state.

Benton said he considered Grimes’ roll-out event on Tuesday as successful but added that she needed it because her initial announcement that she would run was widely panned.

“The thing that Grimes is failing to do is she is failing to deliver a single compelling argument about why she would do anything different than Senator McConnell,” Benton said. “She offers grand platitudes and generalizations and personal attacks very much regurgitated from what is coming out of the belly of the Obama White House yet she is not offering a single substantial policy difference.”

The McConnell campaign has been poking at Grimes with ads and online campaigns making light of her “What rhymes with Grimes?” statement in her 2011 race for secretary of state and seeking to link her to President Obama.

Grimes, in her 18-minute speech on Tuesday, essentially made a three-pronged arguement against McConnell: that he had been in office too long, that his record was that of blocking legislation and that he increased his wealth while serving in Congress even as he voted against minimum wage increases.

Benton took particular exception to the last one, saying that McConnell’s wealth increased when he married Elaine Chao. Benton said if Democrats continue to bring up McConnell’s personal wealth and family, the campaign will not be afraid to hit back.

“If Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to start bringing family into it, we are happy to debate Jerry Lundergan and his transgressions all day long,” Benton said (at 2:30 of the interview). “We’d like to keep this campaign on the issues…but I think the door is ajar, lets see if she wants to keep pushing it open or not.”

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