Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes kicked off a bus tour to this weekend's annual Fancy Farm picnic by opening her Fayette County headquarters with a few hundred cheering supporters.
A day after the Bluegrass Poll showed U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell taking his first lead in a race that remains within the margin of error, Grimes said she was confident that groups such as women, whom the poll shows her hemorrhaging since February, will vote for her in November.
The secretary of state, flanked by Democratic officials and family members in Lexington's Eastland Shopping Center on Winchester Road, rallied the crowd with an extensive critique of McConnell, going so far as to invoke a 2010 remark McConnell made about his efforts to deny President Barack Obama a second term.
"You all know Mitch McConnell said his number one priority was to make sure that our president didn't see another term," Grimes told the crowd. "Well, it is my number one priority to make sure Mitch McConnell doesn't see a sixth term."
McConnell senior adviser Josh Holmes responded to that comment Tuesday night by saying, "If you're looking for a single item that sheds light on this entire race, it's that Alison Lundergan Grimes isn't just supporting Barack Obama's policies, she's criticizing McConnell for opposing his re-election for president."
After the event, Grimes said her campaign's internal poll numbers "have shown, as the polls have shown for a year, this race continues to be a complete and total dead heat."
As foreign policy inches its way into a debate that has largely focused on the economy, Grimes was asked about congressional efforts to aid Israel's missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.
"Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself," Grimes said. "But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza, is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in.
"My hope is that a cease-fire can be structured. Ultimately, I think the long-term solution though is not one we can impose. It has to come from within. It's a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine."
On immigration, with the U.S. House of Representatives preparing a significantly scaled-down version of the emergency supplemental funding request to deal with the influx of migrant children at the southern U.S. border, Grimes was asked whether she thought it was worth it for Senate Democrats to attach comprehensive immigration reform even if that meant the proposal might fail.
"We're a year too late for comprehensive immigration reform, but it's needed and necessary," she said.
The Democratic candidate has been reluctant to take a position on the president's funding request, repeatedly blaming the failure to pass comprehensive reform, which did pass the U.S. Senate.
Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.