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‘I speak for myself.’ Grimes on Obama, McConnell and Senate issues

by Joe Arnold


Posted on November 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 9:06 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes distanced herself from the Obama administration on Thursday, three days after attending a fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidates headlined by First Lady Michelle Obama.

"Listen, I did not have any conversations or interactions with the First lady," Grimes told WHAS11.  "I was there as part of a women's policy conference."

The campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) is anxious to link Grimes to President Barack Obama and policies considered generally unpopular in Kentucky.

At the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in New York, First Lady Michelle Obama urged supporters to open their wallets to help advance the president’s agenda on key issues such as  "common sense gun legislation" and the Affordable Care Act.

"We are just six seats away from losing the Senate -- just six." the first lady said, according to a White House transcript of the event.  "That's how close these midterm elections are.  So it is critical that we elect Michelle Nunn, Alison Grimes, Natalie Tennant.  It is critical that we get them to the Senate."

WHAS11 asked Grimes if Mrs. Obama spoke out of turn by linking Grimes to the advancement of the President's agenda.

"I speak for myself," Grimes responded.  "I don't need Sen. McConnell or anyone from the executive branch to do that.  I stand with, by and for Kentuckians, and that's fighting for Kentuckians and our jobs and our right to bear arms."

Grimes said she spoke about her pro-business, pro-women record at the New York event.

"As Secretary of State, I have worked diligently here in the Commonwealth to make sure that we are truly open for business especially for our female business leaders and owners," Grimes said.  "And I was able to be there to speak not only on that topic but as well as our efforts especially on the election front and passing the first ever address confidentiality program."

"It's time we have a senator in the state of Kentucky that doesn't just talk about helping Kentuckians," Grimes continued, "but actually does help Kentuckians and especially the women of Kentucky and this nation and I was proud to be there speaking about the work that we have done as secretary of state and what I will do as United States Senator."

Grimes was in Louisville in her role as Secretary of State to speak to the Kentucky Association of Counties Annual Meeting at the Galt House.

"There's nothing better than working with the grandmommas and grandbabies of Kentucky to make sure that they know the power of their voice," Grimes said in her thirty minute speech that addressed her office's initiatives for Kentucky businesses and elections.

Grimes' voice has more power than ever -- each comment further defining her U.S. Senate candidacy.

"And I'm not going to stand before you today like Ted Cruz and filibuster," Grimes said when asked about the "nuclear option" filibuster vote on Thursday, "but I can say that from all Kentuckians perspective reform is needed and necessary."

Despite often referring to McConnell as "Senator Gridlock," Grimes was non-committal on the vote by the Democratic majority to change Senate rules to make it more difficult for the minority party to block nominations.

"I think it is worth exploring at this point," Grimes said, "because what has been going on in Washington DC isn't working for Kentucky."

Asked by Insight Communications' reporter Nick Storm about her position on immigration reform, Grimes called for an "earned pathway to citizenship."

"We need an immigration bill and here in the state of Kentucky it will actually help boost our economy," Grimes said, "giving a pathway to citizenship for so many millions of Americans can have a positive impact right here in the state of Kentucky."

"It's not just securing our borders," Grimes continued.  "It's making sure we have a pathway to citizenship for so many in the Commonwealth doing great work."

Grimes said she would address both the immigration issue and a stalled farm bill during a swing through Western Kentucky on Friday.

"A farm bill that we need here in Kentucky and that our senior senator has promised but unfortunately has blocked and stood in the way of it actually getting out of the senate chamber," Grimes said.

Matt Bevin released the following statement concering McConnell, Grimes and Harry Reid's "Nuclear Option:"

"Kentuckians deserve better than a pretend leader who does nothing more than wave his arms for the cameras or a candidate who refuses to make up her mind. The 'nuclear option' vote is an egregious overreach and highlights the same arrogant thinking of career politicians that also led to the government shutdown. As senator, I will fight the efforts of liberals like President Obama and Harry Reid to ensure they do not run roughshod over the rules yet again."