CLINTON - Wesley Cooper was eyeing a glass dish at an estate auction Saturday morning when Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign bus pulled up across the street.
But the 69-year-old wasn't interested in shaking Grimes' hand or hearing her speech in this sparsely populated county along Kentucky's western border.
"I think it don't make a hell a lot of difference whichever one gets in there," Cooper said. "Most politicians don't know this part of the state until it's time to get out and time to get a vote. Once you get elected we won't see you again for four years."
Hickman County, with a population less than 5,000, doesn't get many visits from politicians. But Grimes made three campaign stops in Kentucky's most western counties on Saturday with the hopes of cutting into what has become a Republican advantage in federal elections. Like most of the state, registered Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans in western Kentucky. But the area has consistently voted Republican in federal elections.
The reason, said Bardwell City Councilwoman Kay Presson, is voters here just don't like Democratic President Barack Obama.
"(Grimes) supports Obama. She's one of his main supporters and I do not like Obama," Presson said while eating lunch at the 51 Grill in Bardwell, shortly after Grimes dropped by to speak to a capacity crowd there. "I think more people would support her if she didn't support Obama."
Grimes has been spending a lot of time - and money - to portray herself as a strong, independent voice in a partisan Washington environment. McConnell has said a vote for Grimes is a vote for Democratic control of the Senate and a vote for Obama's agenda. But in two speeches here Saturday, Grimes said the election is not about party control but about two competing visions for Kentucky: Her vision of raising the minimum wage and closing the gender pay gap versus what she said was McConnell's vision of "yesterday's views."
It was enough to convince Wayne Floyd to vote for Grimes this year. Floyd, director of the Carlisle County Ambulance Service, said he has voted for McConnell in past elections. But he says he will vote for Grimes in November because she "has a real touch with the rural community."
"She's making an effort to find out what your concerns are," he said. "I feel like she's got western Kentucky at her heart."
Saturday marked Grimes' second bus tour of the year, following a 10 day, 50 county bus tour the week before the May 20 primary election.
"For me this is a campaign that is out amongst the people of this state," Grimes said in an interview.
A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Kentucky said Grimes' "empty rhetoric" will not change her status as Barack Obama's Kentucky candidate.
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