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.
“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.