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June 12, 2014

Star power: Democrats bringing Warren to campaign for Grimes

FRANKFORT — One of the Democratic Party’s national stars is coming to Kentucky to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who has made her name fighting for populist economic causes on behalf of the middle class and poor will be in Kentucky later this month to campaign and raise money for Grimes.

Some Republicans, including McConnell’s campaign, think Warren is the wrong messenger for conservative Kentucky.

Warren was instrumental in designing the Consumer Protection Agency which Republicans opposed and was slated to head it up but faced opposition by Senate Republicans led by McConnell. Instead, the former Harvard professor defeated Republican Massachusetts first-term Sen. Scott Brown in 2012 to help Democrats maintain their Senate majority.

Warren has been an outspoken champion of working Americans and an outspoken critic of tax policies she says unfairly benefit the rich. She sponsored a bill to allow those with student loans to re-finance loans at lower interest rates, but McConnell and Republicans blocked a vote on the bill by ensuring it didn’t get 60 votes to end debate.

McConnell called the bill a “show vote,” a campaign gimmick on which Democrats could campaign this fall.

Warren criticized McConnell MSNBC Wednesday night, saying he “is there for millionaires and billionaires but he’s not there for people who are working hard and playing by the rules.”

Then she announced she is going to campaign for Grimes who has tried to make her race about working class and populist issues like raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and creating jobs.

“One way I’m going to start fighting back is I’m going to go down to Kentucky and I’m going to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes,” Warren said. “She’s tough; she’s feisty; she endorsed the student loan bill. I’m going to get out there and try to make this happen for her.”

Grimes’ campaign Thursday sent out a fundraising email to supporters touting Warren’s visit and asking for donations. Then Thursday afternoon, Northern Kentucky Democratic activist and fundraiser Nathan Smith sent out an invitation to a fundraiser he’s hosting in Ft. Mitchell with Warren on June 28.

Grimes’ campaign press spokeswoman Charly Norton said details on Warren’s visit haven’t been ironed out but said Warren will attend “multiple events” with Grimes, including at least one with college students.

McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore called Warren “yet another anti-coal liberal senator sent by Harry Reid and Barack Obama to assist in their effort to continue enacting their anti-Kentucky agenda by getting Alison Lundergan Grimes elected.”

McConnell wants to make the race about Obama, who is unpopular in Kentucky, and blame him, Reid and, by extension, Grimes for Kentucky’s declining coal industry.

Grimes wants the race to be about McConnell’s lengthy career in Washington and his resistance to measures like the minimum wage which polls well in Kentucky and nationally.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday Warren can be an effective advocate for Grimes on economic issues.

“She seems to be a fighter for people,” Beshear said. “She wants to raise the minimum wage; she wants equal pay for equal work – all the kinds of things Alison Lundergan Grimes also wants.”

He also said Warren and Grimes want to work “with people across the aisle” as opposed to the obstructionism of McConnell.

Warren might be just the first Democratic star to campaign in Kentucky this summer for Grimes. When Norton was asked if former President Bill Clinton or his wife, former Secretary of State and likely Democratic candidate for president in 2016 Hillary Clinton, plan to come to Kentucky, she was coy.

“We don’t have anything on the calendar just yet,” Norton said. “But we would feel fortunate and grateful to have the Clintons here to support Alison.”

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

 

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