Former President Bill Clinton tried to transfer his popularity in the Bluegrass State Wednesday to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in her quest to oust Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.
“If you want more jobs and higher income, you have one choice — Alison Lundergan Grimes,” Clinton said in a 26 minute speech in Lexington.
Clinton, who won Kentucky in both of his presidential elections in the 1990s, called for raising the minimum wage as he spoke late Wednesday morning to a crowd of about 500 during a campaign fundraiser at the Carrick House, a special events locale in downtown Lexington.
Grimes’ father, former state Democratic Party Chairman and early Clinton supporter Jerry Lundergan, owns the facility and is a close friend of Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton.
The 42nd president plans to travel later in the day to participate in a Grimes’ campaign event in Hazard that is expected to portray Grimes as a friend to coal miners.
The Republican Party of Kentucky released a statement Tuesday criticizing Grimes for bringing “anti-coal Bill Clinton” to campaign in the state.
“When Alison Lundergan Grimes brings to Kentucky someone like Bill Clinton, a champion of anti-coal policies and a man whose name is proudly displayed on the EPA building, she continues to succeed at reminding Kentuckians that she’s Barack Obama’s Kentucky candidate and would surely be a vote for the anti-coal Obama agenda,” said spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper.
Clinton last visited the state in February, headlining a Louisville fundraiser for Grimes that brought in more than $600,000 for her campaign. Wednesday’s event was expected to raise between $250,000 and $375,000.
He also appeared in a video in July 2013 that played at Grimes’ campaign kickoff event in Lexington.
Grimes’ campaign manager, Jonathan Hurst, told The Huffington Post that Clinton is expected to appear in future Grimes’ TV ads and may be back in Kentucky campaigning for Grimes before the Nov. 4 election.
“We are humbled by President Clinton’s continued commitment to our campaign and the hardworking people of Kentucky,” Hurst said in a previous statement. “The president shares Alison’s vision for a strong middle class, and his support in electing Alison, a champion for working families, to the U.S. Senate is invaluable.”