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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says she will not be bullied by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell as she begins her campaign to unseat him.
Grimes talked to reporters for the first time since she announced her run.
McConnell jabbed Grimes last week, saying she's been in hiding since her announcement two weeks ago. But today, Grimes had a ready response.
"I will not be bullied. And my first and foremost priority is serving as Secretary of State, and since announcing my intentions on the first of July, I have been serving as Secretary of State as well as building a successful campaign. One that can cross the finish line successfully," said Grimes.
Grimes was warmly received as she arrived to speak to a meeting of county officials in Louisville. But she knows that if she is get votes from some of these counties that rely on coal, she'll have to distance herself from the Obama administration's coal policies.
"I disagree with the president and his philosophies in terms of coal. I stand by the 15,000 men and women who are employed here in the state of Kentucky and their dependence, and will continue to fight for them on their behalf," she said.
It was enough to convince Democratic Magistrate David Kennedy from Harlan County. "If you don't support coal in the 13-county area down there, we won't support you. It's a simple as that," said Kennedy.
"And you believe she does?" asked WDRB.
"Absolutely. I heard what she said," responded Kennedy.
Grimes also had an answer to one of McConnell's main arguments for re-election, his influence in Washington as Senate minority leader. He has called Grimes a rookie who would be confined to the back bench. "Kentuckians, as well as the nation, are tired of obstruction, and I don't think any woman belongs on the back bench. And the question I would ask is, what has Sen. McConnell done from the front of the bench for Kentucky in 28 years?" said Grimes.
Grimes says she is not concerned about the perceived slow start to her campaign. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish. And my record of finishing is finishing strong here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and I look very much forward and excited to the July 30th kickoff," she said.
That's a reference to what Grimes is calling her official campaign launch in Lexington. She and McConnell have also both agreed to appear at Kentucky's premiere political event, Fancy Farm, on Aug. 3.