Clinton to campaign for Conway Monday at UK

Democratic strategists second-guess site choice

jbrammer@herald-leader.comOctober 8, 2010 

Ukraine Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton, photographed arriving at an anti-AIDS rally in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, will be in Lexington on Monday to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway.

SERGEI CHUZAVKOV — AP

FRANKFORT — Former President Bill Clinton's visit to promote the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jack Conway will be at 11 a.m. Monday in front of the University of Kentucky Administration Building.

But some Democrats said Thursday that the Clinton visit would be more advantageous to Conway in a rural part of the state. The Conway camp declined to comment on why Lexington was selected as the site of Clinton's visit.

In a statement, Conway said, "I am honored to have President Clinton come to Kentucky. We share a passion for protecting Kentucky families and a belief that America's best days are ahead of us.

"The president will help make the choice in this election clear: between my proven record of protecting Kentucky families and Rand Paul's proven inability to understand Kentucky or stand up for our families."

Conway faces Paul, the Republican nominee and a Bowling Green eye surgeon, in the Nov. 2 general election.

Paul's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, said Conway is "welcome to bring in all of the out-state liberals he wants" and that the Paul campaign remains ready "to pay for President Obama's plane ticket" to visit Kentucky for Conway.

The Conway camp hopes Clinton's visit will help spur Democrats to turn out to vote. Polls have consistently found that more Republicans than Democrats say they are likely to vote in the Nov. 2 election.

Polls also have shown Conway trailing Paul, although some recent surveys have the race tightening.

Clinton, who carried Kentucky in both his presidential elections, is expected to create a buzz for the Conway campaign. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed Clinton as the most popular politician in America.

Democratic political consultant Danny Briscoe of Louisville said that Clinton will generate excitement for Conway but that the former president's visit should be in Western Kentucky.

Briscoe said he did not know about Conway's campaign polling but would guess that Conway is ahead in Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District, which includes Lexington, and the 3rd District in Louisville, "and behind everywhere else."

Conway needs to have Clinton "go to any one of the other four congressional districts to try to make the race very close there. Media coverage probably would be heavier in Western Kentucky's 1st or 2nd district."

Briscoe noted that "there has been talk about 'an enthusiasm gap' between supporters of Conway and Paul, which could spur voter turnout in Paul's favor in rural areas.

Voter turnout already is going to be heavy in Lexington because of the mayoral, congressional and city council races, Briscoe said.

He said he realizes that Conway probably could raise more campaign funds in Lexington with a Clinton visit than in Western Kentucky, "but now voters are more important than money. I would have sent the president to Owensboro."

Bill Hayes, a Middlesboro lawyer who is a member of the Democratic State Central Executive Committee, predicted that Conway will run well in the cities.

"What he needs to do more is to provide a personal touch for people who want to see him in person," Hayes said. "He needs to get out more to the rural areas."

Anyone who wants to attend the free rally should call (502) 632-1820 or contact Jackconway.org/Clinton.

The Administration Building is at the corner of South Limestone Street and Administration Drive. Parking for the rally will be provided at The Red Mile at Virginia Avenue and South Broadway.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail Thursday, Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear and state Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins of Shively took issue with comments Paul made in September 2009 at a Northern Kentucky town hall meeting about federal funding for breast cancer research.

Paul said he generally favors more research funding at the state level than at the federal.

Beshear and Jenkins said funding for the research should come from every possible source. Paul said he does favor breast cancer research but would not say whether he would promote more federal funding for it.

Benton, Paul's campaign manager, wrote via e-mail, "As a doctor and devoted husband of 20 years, Dr. Paul is deeply concerned about the scourge of breast cancer and will fight to ensure we do all we can to find a cure."

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