CAMPBELLSVILLE — Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes know a good place to look for votes when they see it.
McConnell, the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator, is trying to hold off Democrat Grimes’ challenge as he seeks a sixth term and hopes to become the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate if the GOP can pick up six seats this fall.
So the annual Fourth of July parade here was a natural for both candidates. Organizers estimated that maybe 25,000 were on hand in this town of just 10,769 – and they may not have been embellishing all that much.
At least some of them hoped to see McConnell and Grimes together on the same stage but were disappointed. Grimes spoke, keeping largely to appropriate Fourth of July themes, but McConnell backed out, citing a scheduling conflict, and arriving just in time to join the parade. His campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore wouldn’t provide any details about his earlier schedule.
But after the parade, McConnell said the election is a “referendum on the Obama administration’s abysmal record” and a “jobless recovery.”
Economists generally agree the recovery has been weaker than expected but job figures have been improving rapidly in recent months. The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that the economy added 288,000 jobs last month, bringing the national unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, the lowest rate since October 2008 just before the financial collapse of giant financial firms on Wall Street.
But McConnell said “virtually everything (the Obama administration) has done is a job depressant,” including what he calls Obama’s “war on coal.”
Grimes said the race isn’t about the Obama.
“What Mitch McConnell fails to realize is the president’s name isn’t on the ballot. It’s my name on the ballot,” Grimes said.
Taylor County isn’t exactly coal country – but one man who declined to be interviewed wore a black T-Shirt with pro-coal slogans on it. When McConnell’s parade car passed, the man yelled and made a thumbs-up sign as McConnell campaign volunteers walking alongside McConnell’s car cheered.