LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Ahead of a trip to Chicago to meet with wealthy, progressive campaign donors, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes on Monday emphasized grassroots fundraising in Kentucky.
"We are working hard in this race to make sure that Kentuckians have a voice," Grimes told WHAS11, "and we are so proud of the work that we have done in fundraising."
Grimes stressed that her campaign's average contribution is $25.
"We are going to continue to work very hard raising the most out of Kentucky than anyone has ever raised," Grimes continued, "and we've got people all across this nation joining us."
Grimes did not volunteer any information about her planned meeting with the Democracy Alliance, reported by Politico last week. According to the Politico report, the spring meeting of the "secretive club of wealthy liberals" includes plans by some of the country’s biggest Democratic donors "to pull their party — and the country — to the left."
Despite plans announced last week by the progressive Credo Super PAC to mobilize in Kentucky to defeat Grimes' likely opponent, five-term Republican incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, that same day Grimes separated herself from Credo and other environmentalist Democrats by announcing her support for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Grimes said she based her position on her goal of energy independence.
"I am proud to have led in this race in terms of actually having a vision for how we are going to put hard working Kentuckians back to work," Grimes responded when asked about the pipeline.
"First and foremost, my concern is how we grow the middle class of this state," Grimes continued. "And I think we have to have a long-term national policy especially on energy that involves coal and making sure that we become energy independent and reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and Keystone is the way to do that and every decision I have made has been in the light of what's best for the commonwealth and especially moving our state forward and growing the middle class."
Grimes' Democratic primary opponent, Greg Leichty, said Grimes only made her Keystone position known after being pressured publicly by the McConnell campaign.
"It's already alienated a bunch of people," Leichty said. "I've already had a number of people that are advocating on Facebook and Twitter and a variety of places a protest vote for Greg Leichty because of this particular position."
"It's an opening for my campaign," Leichty said.
While criticizing McConnell's "not my job" comment publicized last week, Grimes used the opportunity of it occurring in coal country to blame Obama administration policies for contributing to hard times.
"I was astounded that Sen. McConnell would actually go to one of the hardest hit areas of our state in eastern Kentucky," Grimes said, "who has been slammed by the administration who I have criticized for how they have especially hit our Kentuckians who are trying to put food on the table and gas in their cars the hardest, and Mitch McConnell went there, when asked how he was going to help ease the unemployment rate, nearly 14 percent, twice the national average, Lee County has, he had the audacity to say --- that it is not his responsibility to bring jobs to this state."
Grimes said it stood in "stark contrast" to her number one priority of helping to put Kentuckians back to work.
It didn't take long for Grimes to make McConnell's comment part of her stump speech.
McConnell contends his remarks to an newspaper reporter -- who didn't stay to hear his speech -- were "lost in translation" and that his work to improve the national economy in turn helps Kentucky jobs.