U.S. Sen. Warren starts Grimes' weeklong push toward Election Day with high-profile surrogates

10/28/2014 10:30 PM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes began her one-week sprint to Election Day flanked by one of the most popular members of her party.

Before the week’s up, she’ll be joined again by a former president and his wife, whom many believe will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016 if she decides to run.

Grimes was joined by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., before about 400 supporters at the Copper and Kings Distillery in Louisville Tuesday, and the two hemmed close to Grimes’ primary talking points on the campaign trail. In Warren, who made her second appearance in Kentucky’s contentious U.S. Senate race between Grimes and Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Grimes had an advocate for student loan reform.

Warren spoke about the Democrat-backed student loan refinancing bill she sponsored earlier this year and McConnell’s role in leading a filibuster against the legislation, effectively blocking its progress in the U.S. Senate. McConnell, the Senate’s Republican leader, said at the time the bill was aimed to help Democrats’ political prospects.

“Every single Democrat in the United State Senate supported this bill,” Warren said, noting 40 million Americans have a collective $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. “Alison Lundergan Grimes supports this bill. So why is it not the law? Two words: Mitch McConnell.

“Now, I want you to think about that. We’re talking about refinancing student loan debt. … Mitch McConnell could have said, ’Yes.’ He could have said, ‘Yes,’ to 359,000 people here in Kentucky. He could have said, ‘Not yes to that, but let’s negotiate and see if we can find some other place, maybe we’ll have a different interest rate.’ I at least would have heard that, but Mitch McConnell had just one word. He said, ‘No.’”

Warren said her bill would have closed tax loopholes to cover the cost of lowering interest rates, which she said puts McConnell firmly in the corner of the wealthy rather than students and recent graduates.

“His message to the young people of Kentucky is suck it up,” Warren said. “Mitch McConnell is here to work for the millionaires and the billionaires.”

Warren won’t be the only high-profile Democrat to hit the trail for Grimes as she seeks to deny McConnell a sixth term. Grimes’ campaign previously announced stops by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Lexington and northern Kentucky Saturday, and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, announced Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton will stump for the Democratic hopeful Thursday in Louisville. The 42nd president will make his fourth trip on Grimes’ behalf while this weekend will mark Hillary Clinton’s second stop in the state.

While she’s sought to define herself as a Clinton Democrat on the trail, McConnell’s campaign attempted to undermine that message given her appearance alongside Warren.

“Throughout her campaign Alison Grimes has made it perfectly clear that she would model herself after the most dogmatically loyal Obama lieutenants in the U.S. Senate and yet another visit from Elizabeth Warren is the perfect capstone,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement. “The fact that Grimes is so comfortable campaigning with a Senator who aggressively works against Kentucky is a stark reminder of her loyalty to Obama over the Commonwealth.”

Grimes and Warren took their shots at McConnell from the stump. The candidate laid the blame of nearly all the state’s woes squarely at the feet of the 30-year incumbent.

“He fails to see we rank at the bottom of every national indicator that’s out there because of him, his 30 years in Washington,” she said. “We’re no better off. Seniority, it might be worth something Mitch McConnell if you weren’t up for sale to the highest bidder.”

After taking shots at national Democrats once the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee briefly ended their advertising campaign in Kentucky, Grimes made no allusions to Washington turning its back on Kentucky in her 18-minute speech. The group announced last week it would go back on the state’s airwaves at the same time the Senate Majority PAC launched a renewed advertising blitz with a $1 million ad buy last week.

Groups backing McConnell’s reelection have also dumped millions in this midterm race. While both sides have their high-dollar backers, Warren blamed the GOP for saying “in effect, ‘We think the billionaires can buy elections.’”

“Well the question for us is do we think that when we get out there and work hard enough that it’s still the people who determine who’s going to be the senator from Kentucky?” she said.

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 kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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