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Bill Clinton visits Kentucky again, tries to deliver a knockout punch against Mitch McConnell

Former President Bill Clinton held twins for a picture Thursday while campaigning in Ashland for  Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Photo by John Flavell.
Former President Bill Clinton held twins for a picture Thursday while campaigning in Ashland for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Photo by John Flavell. Herald-Leader

LOUISVILLE — On a stage late Thursday morning before several hundred people outside the Muhammad Ali Center, former President Bill Clinton tried to deliver a knockout punch against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on behalf of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Clinton, making his fourth visit to Kentucky for Grimes' bid to oust the Republican incumbent from his 30-year tenure, painted Grimes as a champion for working people.

He said Kentucky, which he won both times he ran for president, has not had a champion for the working people in the U.S. Senate since Democrat Wendell Ford left in 1999. Grimes will work to increase the minimum wage, lower interest rates on college loans, and keep coal miners safe and employed, Clinton said.

He said McConnell would work solely to benefit his wealthy supporters.

Clinton spoke for 101/2 minutes, a short speech for him. He attended another rally for Grimes later in the day in Ashland.

McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said she hoped the former president enjoyed the Ashland riverfront development that McConnell helped build.

Earlier in the day, the McConnell campaign released an online video in which Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles praised McConnell for helping his city secure more than $10 million for its new riverfront near where Clinton spoke.

"Alison Lundergan Grimes is an Obama liberal, and six visits from different Clintons don't change the fact that her first vote as a senator would be to empower the Obama agenda," said Moore.

During his Louisville stop, Clinton made light of his visits, saying that he had been to Kentucky so often that Gov. Steve Beshear said Clinton might have to fill out a tax form during his next visit.

Both Clinton and Grimes used a plethora of sports clichés in their speeches.

Clinton, noting that "politics is a contact sport and not for the faint-hearted," called Kentucky "the best basketball state in the nation."

He said Kentuckians needed to make sure Grimes had the ball at the end of the contest with McConnell.

Grimes reminded the crowd that 40 years ago to the day, challenger Ali knocked out undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman in the eighth round of "The Rumble in the Jungle" in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"You are the ones who are going to deliver the knockout to Mitch McConnell," she said.

Also speaking on behalf of Grimes at the Louisville rally was U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Heitkamp, who was celebrating her 59th birthday, urged the crowd to set aside polls during the final days of the campaign and focus on getting out the vote for Grimes.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016, is scheduled to campaign for Grimes on Saturday in Northern Kentucky and Lexington. She drew a crowd of about 4,500 for a Grimes rally this month in Louisville.

McConnell's campaign announced that he wouldfly to several Kentucky cities Monday, the day before the election, with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green.

Kentucky's Senate election is one of several close races across the country that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

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