Bill Clinton won Kentucky’s electoral votes by a 3 point margin in 1992 over Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush (independent candidate Ross Perot, who many believe played spoiler, came in third, more than 30 points behind Clinton). President Bill Clinton’s margin of victory was even narrower in 1996, when he won Kentucky’s popular vote by less than 1 percent over challenger Bob Dole.
Bill Clinton, who recently teased George W. Bush for not having a Twitter account, is the last Democrat to receive any electoral votes from Kentucky in a presidential election. Maybe that’s why Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State and Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes proclaimed that “Kentucky is Clinton Country” when she introduced the former president at his first stump speech of the 2014 midterm election circuit.
Or, it could be the fact that Kentucky also voted for Hillary Clinton over then-Senator Barack Obama in the 2000 Democratic Party Primary. In any case, Grimes has a long history with the Clintons. Her father stumped for Bill when she was a teenager. Her comments in an ABC interview seem to indicate that she considered Bill Clinton a natural choice to help her campaign:
“He is someone who has literally seen me grow up since I was 14 years old. And today having someone who has such a distinguished record of economic expansion…make this his first campaign stop of the 2014 election cycle, to endorse our jobs plan…I think it speaks volumes about not only the priority that Kentucky is, his commitment and friendship obviously with my family which we are so grateful for, but most importantly that here in Kentucky he is backing the jobs candidate.”
Others in Kentucky aren’t quite as complimentary of Bill Clinton. Sen. Rand Paul – whose seat is not up for election this cycle, but who is reportedly considering a run for his party’s presidential nomination – has drawn attention recently with his comments about Bill according to a Fox News report:
“Anybody else, they would fire their president they would fire any executive who did this to a young intern in the workplace. So, I don’t think that was acceptable and I don’t think he is a great representative for Kentucky values or their families.”
The remarks were intended to draw attention to the Monica Lewinsky scandal during Bill Clinton’s second term in office. The remarks don’t seem to have had much affect, as the philandering former president was named “Most Forgivable Liar” in a recent poll. Even Mitt Romney has chimed in and declared the scandal off-limits, at least as pertains to a presidential run for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Sen. McConnell, the Senate minority leader and a 30 year incumbent whom Grimes is challenging, had a different take on the Bill Clinton visit:
“Last time he ran in 1996 he eked out a narrow victory while I beat the current governor in Kentucky by 160,000 votes, 10 points. In 2008 Bill and Hillary Clinton came to town the day before the election and I won by 100,000 votes. I welcome President Clinton back to Kentucky. Anytime he’s come, it’s been really good for me.”
Currently, both of Kentucky’s senators are Republican, as are five of their six representatives. Kentucky has not put a Democrat in the US Senate since former Senate minority whip Wendell Ford retired in 1999.
What do you think? Is Kentucky Clinton country? Can Bill Clinton help the Democrats win a tightly contested Senate seat?
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