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LOUISVILLE, KY – Bill Clinton kicked off his 2014 campaign efforts Tuesday by wading into what might be the nastiest contest of the midterm cycle: the Kentucky Senate race.
But the former president’s message was more a plea for cooperative solutions. "You will not get anywhere calling anybody a name" in a campaign ad, Clinton said at a fundraiser for Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Tuesday’s appearance is the first of many expected from Clinton as he tries to help Democrats in their tough fight to maintain control of the Senate. Rather than describing the broad national policy head-butting between the two parties, he painted the Kentucky Democrat as a solution-seeking alternative to the status quo.
"Politics is not rocket science," Clinton told backers at a standing-room-only fundraiser in Louisville. "It's either creative cooperation or constant conflict. It's either a focus on people or a focus on keeping yourself in power by keeping people torn up and upset so they can't think anymore."
McConnell, he suggested, is a practitioner of the latter.
Clinton didn't steer away from discussing certain Democratic policy proposals. He lauded Grimes' support for raising the minimum wage, a key issue for Democrats nationally.
And he defended the new health care law, a political hot potato in a state where the program (and it’s architect, President Barack Obama) is far from popular. Clinton said "Albert Einstein could have written that bill in a closet" and it would have had flaws, earning chuckles from the crowd.
While the Grimes campaign rolled out the proverbial red carpet for Clinton -- including a massive jib-mounted camera indicative of the filming of a campaign ad -- she has a different view of stumping with Obama.
"I speak for myself, don't need any other surrogate to do that for me," she told NBC News last week when asked about a potential Obama visit. "I stand in stark contrast to the president, of his ideas and platforms."
Kasie Hunt contributed.