GILBERTSVILLE—At an annual event known for its bean dish, Kentucky Secretary of State and U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes offered some red meat to a Democratic audience.
Grimes once again challenged her opponent, incumbent GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell, to a public debate, drawing cheers from a friendly crowd.
Grimes delivered a keynote speech at the Marshall County bean supper—a West Kentucky political event that affords Democratic candidates a chance to polish their rhetorical chops in advance of the Fancy Farm political picnic—and attacked McConnell on a wide variety of fronts, from student loan debt and gender pay equity to support for an increase in the minimum wage.
Grimes flubbed an opening joke—a salvo at McConnell—but recovered quickly among the gracious group of supporters.
On the topic of a debate, Grimes said her campaign has reached out to McConnell’s campaign, but that the McConnell hasn’t responded.
“My team has stood ready and willing to sit down and hammer out dates and times,” she said. “Mitch McConnell’s team has yet to show up.”
McConnell has challenged Grimes to a heavily conditioned “Lincoln-Douglas” style debate without an audience, which Grimes has rejected.
“I look forward to the opportunity to sit across from Sen. McConnell and to hold him accountable for his 30 years of failed leadership. It seems to be Sen. McConnell doesn’t want to show up.”
Grimes also dismissed a troubling trend in her campaign, which has been defined in no small part by an advocacy of women’s issues: a decline in support among women voters. A Bluegrass poll conducted in February had Grimes leading among that demographic by 12 points; a Bluegrass poll from July showed that lead had shrunk to 1 point.
“I don’t agree with the premise,” she said. “When women learn the horrible votes that Mitch McConnell has taken against their interest, when it comes to the Paycheck Fairness Act, or the Violence Against Women Act, or the Lilly Ledbetter Act, they become the backbone of this campaign.”
The July Bluegrass poll gave McConnell a narrow two-point advantage over Grimes heading into Saturday’s Fancy Farm political picnic.
The crowd there will be a lot less friendly.