Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 29, 2014

Warren blasts McConnell on economic issues

Massachusetts senator stumps for Grimes

LOUISVILLE — Elizabeth Warren said here Sunday that Kentucky voters have a simple choice this fall in the nation’s most important election.

They can re-elect Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who the Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senator said represents the interests of the wealthy and says “no, no, no” to measures to assist the middle class.

Or voters from a relatively poor state can vote to replace him with Democratic Alison Lundergan Grimes, who will represent their economic interests.

Warren spoke to about 500 on the University of Louisville campus, highlighting her sponsorship of a measure to allow those with student loans to refinance at lower rates and pay for it by closing tax loopholes for the rich contrasting that with McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader who led Republicans to block a vote on the measure.

“In other words, it’s about millionaires or students, and I stand here with the woman today who said in that choice, I’m going with the students,” Warren said.

She said all Democrats, both independents and three Republican senators, supported the measure but it fell two votes short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster.

“That’s what this race is all about,” Warren said. “It’s about a man who stood up and filibustered the student loan bill and so we fell two votes short of breaking the filibuster. I tell you that story because you send us Alison Grimes instead of Mitch McConnell and you change the world.”

It sounded personal, though in a brief interview after her speech, Warren wouldn’t take the bait. Asked how personal it is between her and McConnell, she laughed and only said: “I’m here for Alison,” as an aide said, “We have to get going.”

But Warren made it a populist appeal by returning to the kind of themes Kentucky Democrats used to campaign on when they controlled a congressional delegation that now sports only one Democrat out of eight members.

Warren pounded on McConnell “who bets he can go to Washington and tilt all the rules in favor of the rich. Alison and I? We’re betting on you.”

Asked afterward if her economic message will work in conservative Kentucky where McConnell runs more against people like Warren, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and President Barack Obama, Warren pounced.

“Yes, it will. You bet it will,” she said, pumping her fist as aides pulled her away.

It worked Sunday morning.

Warren evoked echoes of a former kind of Kentucky Democrat, like Wendell Ford who was governor from 1971 to 1974 before being elected to the U.S. Senate. Ford and other Democrats were socially conservative but ran on populist economic themes like Warren sounded Sunday.

She talked about her family’s economic challenges as she grew up in Oklahoma, praising an America where her mother could support her family on a minimum wage job “at a time when a minimum wage job would keep a family of three afloat.”

“There was an America like that once,” Warren said, where the daughter of a janitor could go to a commuter college for $50 a semester, earn a teaching degree and then go on to become a Harvard professor and United States senator.

McConnell’s campaign portrays Warren as a left-wing northeastern liberal who stands with Reid and Obama and supports “a war on coal.” Both Warren and Grimes, who says she’s a supporter of coal, conceded Sunday they don’t always agree, but they agree on economic issues confronting the middle class.

McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore responsded on Sunday, saying, “It’s virtually impossible to think of a single way in which the Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Alison Lundergan Grimes economic policies have made life better for American families. After nearly six years of evidence that the Obama approach has failed Kentuckians, nobody is buying more tax-and-spend liberalism cloaked in false promises.”

John Rogers, a Glasgow Democrat and attorney, and his wife, LaDonna, drove an hour and a half to hear Warren. He said Warren can help Grimes despite McConnell’s characterization of her as a liberal.

“I believe in what she has to say,” Rogers said. “It’s a good message: lower interest rates on student loans and help for the middle class. I know a lot of folks in Glasgow who like Warren and her message and her policies.”

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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