Grimes launches campaign against McConnell, christens it ‘Team Switch’

Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a potential challenger to U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, chats with party leaders at a dinner in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday, June 6, 2013. Grimes has given no time frame announcing whether she will run in next year's election. (AP Photo/Roger Alford)
Alison Lundergan Grimes  in Louisville, Ky., on  June 6, 2013. (Roger Alford/AP)

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) officially launched her campaign for Senate on Tuesday, pegging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the "guardian of gridlock" and pitching her campaign as "Team Switch."

"There is a disease of dysfunction in Washington, and after 30 years, Mitch McConnell is at the center of it," Grimes said, adding: "He views public service as a carnival game of whack-a-mole."

Grimes's campaign also played a campaign video featuring Grimes's grandmother in which her grandmother says, "What rhymes with Mitch? It's time to switch." Grimes then christened her campaign "Team Switch" — in contrast to McConnell's campaign, which is known as "Team Mitch."

"I invite you, in the words of my grandmother, to join Team Switch," Grimes said.

Grimes was also preceded in her announcement by former President Bill Clinton, who appeared via video.

"Kentucky has had no better friend as president than Bill Clinton," Grimes said.

In response to the launch, McConnell's campaign sought to attach Grimes to a different president — President Obama.

"Kentuckians have a clear choice between Mitch McConnell, an unwavering defender of our people, and Alison Lundergan Grimes, an ambitious but unproven liberal who will be more beholden to President Obama and his financial backers than the citizens she hopes to represent," McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement.

In her announcement, Grimes sought to put some distance between herself and Obama — particularly when it comes to his signature health-care law, which she referred to by its official name, the Affordable Care Act, rather than the more common "Obamacare."

"I think there are things in the Affordable Care Act that we must fix, but that doesn't mean that we should" scrap the good things, Grimes said.

Grimes's launch comes nearly a month after she announced she would run in what many saw as an odd and hastily organized news conference. Grimes had no Web site and spoke in front of a sign for her 2011 secretary of state campaign.

Since then, Democrats have dismissed the criticism as inside baseball, and Grimes's lengthy, well-attended and largely well-produced kickoff event Tuesday (which did include some momentary audio-visual problems) seemed intended to proving that her campaign is capable of big things.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake | July 30, 2013