HAZARD, Ky. -- A familiar face campaigned alongside Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on Wednesday in the heart of coal country: former President Bill Clinton.
“I'm really honored to be here, you know, I love Kentucky,” Clinton told the standing room only crowd. “You've been good to me, you voted for me twice. And you've been good to Hillary and I appreciate that.”
Clinton was the last Democrat to win a U.S. Senate or presidential race in the Bluegrass State back in 1996 and has been a big supporter of Grimes’ campaign to takedown Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
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“One candidate says, ‘It’s not my job to create jobs,” Clinton said of McConnell. “The other candidate from the get-go of her campaign put out a Kentucky jobs action plans. And it’s good, I've read it. It’s good. I choose jobs.”
The race between Grimes and McConnell is undoubtedly the most high-profile U.S. Senate race in the nation this year. The latest NBC News/Marist poll from May shows a dead heat with McConnell nudging out Grimes 46% to 45% with 8% still undecided.
Grimes, who is family friends with the Clintons, is running as a “Clinton Democrat” in her quest to unseat Kentucky’s senior senator. Neither Clinton nor Grimes mentioned President Barack Obama in their nearly 45-minute program as McConnell has sought to tie his opponent with the president’s unpopularity in the state.
“Here today I will set the record straight: I'm not an empty dress, I’m not a rubber stamp, and I am not a cheerleader,” Grimes proclaimed to cheers. “One label that I will wear proudly and I know you will join me - I am a Clinton Democrat.”
She continued standing in front a several coal miners: “You know what being a Clinton Democrat is all about – it is before you are a Democrat or a Republican, you are an American first.”
It is no surprise that the high-profile visit included stops in the heart of coal country, a key voting bloc in a state where coal miners are heavily courted voters. McConnell has attacked Grimes for being the anti-coal candidate in the race and linked her with the president’s efforts to curb carbon emissions.
“Senator McConnell has a habit lately of getting confused on a lot of things. He has been in Washington so long…So let’s just get the record straight senator, I am the pro coal candidate in this race,” Grimes said.