Yarmuth: Grimes can raise the money and provide the contrast to defeat McConnell

07/01/2013 09:34 PM

Alison Lundergan Grimes will give the Democratic Party a challenger to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell that can provide a stark contrast, raise enough money and stand toe-to-toe with the six-term senator on the issues, said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth.

“The contrast between the two candidates, if she’s the nominee, could not be starker both in terms of, obviously, gender and age but also in policy considerations,” said Yarmuth, the Democratic congressman from Louisville.

While Yarmuth said he is “betting she will be the nominee,” he acknowledged that Grimes would start as the underdog against McConnell, who already has raised more than $12 million and could collect as much as $25 million by Election Day. Yarmuth said Grimes can raise more than $10 million, which might be all she will need to stay competitive, especially with independent groups and super PACs expected to get involved from both parties.

“I don’t think there are enough TV stations to run the number of ads that will want to be purchased,” he said. “So again, I think if she gets over $10 million, she’ll have all the money she needs to wage a very, very competitive race.”

Yarmuth also scoffed at McConnell’s response to Grimes’ announcement in which McConnell called for a respectful exchange of ideas.

“If he is involved in a campaign that is characterized that way, it will be a first for him,” Yarmuth said of McConnell (4:00 of the interview).

McConnell already has forecast in ads and his response to Grimes’ announcement that his seniority and post as Republican Senate Leader will be centerpieces of his pitch to voters.

Yarmuth said that cuts both ways.

“It gives Alison Grimes, again, if she’s the candidate, to say, ‘What has that experience done for Kentucky? What has it done for the country? ‘Cause all it’s done is given Mitch more tools to stop progress for the country,” Yarmuth said.

As for the issues, Grimes hasn’t had to wrestle with international policy or even national issues, such as federal spending or programs like Medicare, the way McConnell has. While she will have some studying to do, Yarmuth said, she’s not locked into past statements.

“She can define herself from basically a blank slate, and that’s a great opportunity for her. I suspect she will not be as liberal as I am. That’s a safe bet,” Yarmuth said.

And she, like any Democrat who runs in Kentucky in 2014, should expect to be tied to President Barack Obama by GOP ads, Yarmuth said.

“I suspect she will … But she can chart her own course. Yes, I understand she voted for President Obama at the convention, but there was no one else to vote for,” he said.

Grimes, in her brief appearance in front of reporters, said she’s used to the role of underdog. In 2011, she defeated the governor’s appointee for secretary of state in the Democratic primary for that post, although she out-raised Elaine Walker, whom Beshear had picked in January to finish the term of Trey Grayson.


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