FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes will get a campaign boost from a family friend — former President Bill Clinton — in her bid to win the seat held by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Grimes said Friday that Clinton will campaign with her Feb. 25 in Louisville.
"I was elated when he called and said he wanted to make this race his top priority," Grimes said.
Clinton carried Kentucky in both of his successful campaigns for the White House in the 1990s. He's the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the Bluegrass state.
McConnell was a frequent critic of Clinton during the Democrat's presidency.
Grimes' father, former state Democratic Chairman Jerry Lundergan, has been friends with Clinton for years. Clinton offered a video statement in support of Grimes at her campaign's launch last summer.
In the video, Clinton called her "Kentucky, through and through," and said she would restore a bipartisan tone that's been missing in Washington.
"We have simply got to have more people who are willing to reach across the aisle and say, 'I'm ready to work with you to build a better future,'" Clinton said. "Alison wants to do that. And she's capable of doing it."
Grimes, in her first term as Kentucky's secretary of state, is the Democratic front-runner in this year's Senate race. McConnell, the longest-serving senator in state history, is seeking a sixth term. He is being challenged in the GOP primary by Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.
McConnell planned to talk about coal issues Saturday during stops in Hazard in eastern Kentucky and Madisonville in the west.
Coal mining, a major industry in the state, has emerged as a central issue in the Senate race.
McConnell has tried to link Grimes to Democratic President Barack Obama, blaming federal environmental regulations for sending the state's coal sector into a tailspin, costing thousands of jobs.
Bevin planned to speak to a crowd in northern Kentucky on Saturday that will include tea party backers.
Meanwhile, Grimes has focused recently on her jobs plan in speeches across the state.
In a speech Thursday night in Louisville, she called for a higher federal minimum wage, more federal support for early childhood education and workforce training programs.
She endorsed expanding tax credits to help businesses create new technologies and products. She vowed to oppose tax breaks to companies that shift jobs overseas and called for efforts to curb China's currency manipulation, saying the U.S. trade deficit with China has cost jobs in Kentucky.
Grimes accused McConnell of being focused more on partisan gain than on people.
"After 30 years of Mitch McConnell getting it wrong, what makes us think that the next six years he'll get it right?" she said. "Kentucky, it's time for a change."
In response, McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said: "The fact that Alison Lundergan Grimes released a jobs plan full of elements that already exist speaks volumes about her candidacy, which is full of rhetoric but empty on substance and credibility."