From Mitch McConnell’s perspective, the 2014 race for his U.S. Senate seat comes down to in large part to his influence and many years of experience in Washington, D.C.
McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, spoke to reporters on Wednesday after a groundbreaking for the final phase of the Parklands of Floyds Fork project in southeastern Jefferson County. He addressed the entry on Monday into the senate race of Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State.
In essence, McConnell said he pulls weight in the federal government that a Sen. Grimes would not.
“Kentucky would lose dramatically by trading in the leader of one of the two parties in the Senate for a rookie,” McConnell said. “We’ve only had two party leaders in the history of our state—Alben Barkley and myself. I sit in the front row. My opponent, if she were elected, would sit in the back row.”
He also paired Grimes alongside President Obama and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on the Affordable Care Act and coal.
McConnell, 71, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984. He became the Republican whip in 2003 and Republican leader in 2007.
“I’m the leader of one of the two parties in the Senate; Kentucky has an extraordinary position of influence as a result of their confidence in me over the years,” McConnell said on Wednesday.
“What will be the issue in the campaign is who is the most likely to support the Barack Obama/Harry Reid agenda—implementation of Obamacare and the war on coal. My opponent will do that. And do we really want to lose the influence that’s been acquired over the years. I don’t think Kentuckians want to go back to the back bench when they have a seat on the front bench.”
Grimes, 34, is an attorney by trade and was elected Kentucky’s Secretary of State in 2011.
A reporter asked McConnell to discuss the demographic differences between he and Grimes, the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat. The reporter, WHAS-11’s Joe Arnold, also asked McConnell to respond to indications that Grimes will campaign on “women’s issues,” like the Violence Against Women Act.
He responded: “As Ronald Reagan famously said once, I won’t use my opponents’ age and inexperience as an issue in the campaign.”
When he was pressed on the other question, McConnell stared at the reporters for a moment and then moved on to the next question. (LEO has video here.)