Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) declined Monday to say whether she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, dodging the question for at least the second time in five days.

The Democratic Senate nominee explained her decision by saying she was "not going to compromise a constitutional right" to privacy at the ballot box "provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor on one or [the] other side or for members of the media." She added that her position as Kentucky's chief election officer makes it even more important to protect that right.

Grimes attracted national attention on Thursday when she repeatedly refused to say if she voted for Obama in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal's editorial board. Obama is very unpopular in Kentucky. He lost badly in the state in 2008 and 2012.

Grimes made her Monday remarks at an evening debate against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) moderated by KET's Bill Goodman. Grimes and McConnell sparred for an hour at their only televised debate of the campaign. Polls show a close race between the two contenders.

Kentucky is one of about a dozen races that could decide which party is in the majority in 2015.

McConnell quickly volunteered that he voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. He also said he voted for Trey Grayson over now-Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in the 2010 GOP primary.

Grimes has portrayed herself as a Clinton Democrat. Bill Clinton, who is very popular in Kentucky, has campaign for Grimes. McConnell retorted that there is no difference between a Clinton Democrat and an Obama Democrat.

The two candidates sparred over the minimum wage and coal, with each portraying the other as unfriendly to the coal industry.

They repeatedly returned to lines of attack they have routinely used on the campaign trail. McConnell cast Grimes as an ally of Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), calling her a "partisan Democrat" who has tried to "deceive" voters about her agenda.

Grimes rejected that label.

"The president is not on the ballot this year. It's myself and Sen. McConnell and he doesn't want to take responsibility for all that's wrong in Washington D.C.," she said.

Grimes portrayed herself as a bipartisan deal-maker who contrasts with McConnell. She called him Sen. "Gridlock," "No-show" and "Shutdown." She also tied him to the Koch brothers.

McConnell said there is "a great likelihood" he will become Senate majority leader if reelected and would therefore give Kentuckians a senator who is setting the agenda in Washington. Republicans need to gain six seats to win the majority.