Bill Clinton Campaigns in the Kentucky Senate Race

The former president voices his support for McConnell opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes.
3:00 | 02/25/14

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Transcript for Bill Clinton Campaigns in the Kentucky Senate Race
This is a special group. I'm Michelle Franzen -- new York and this is an ABC news digital special report. The big dog in the Bluegrass State former President Bill Clinton jumps and -- the hotly contested Kentucky's senate race today. Stumping for Democrat Allison -- and Grimes in Louisville. And we're joined now from Louisville by ABC news senior Washington correspondent -- felony and from DC by ABC's eight Abby Phillips. I want to start with you -- though this is former president Clinton's first big campaign appearance of the season. Why Kentucky why -- -- in Grimes. -- morning Michelle it is the president Clinton's first campaign stop here. In fact -- equipment the long relationship with the Eleanor and Stanley and Alice and -- Is that. The next generation of this political dynasty here in Kentucky one thing to keep in mind that he -- end -- first grade when Mitch McConnell was first elected -- Bennett. But that's a bit of a generational. -- here but we came down to Kentucky big event when he gets started here in the next few minutes this visit wanna be. Products that are -- that in the country. There's no bigger Republican target and Mitch McConnell the Republican senate leader and Alison Monaghan -- thinks she can beat a Democrat to beat beat it. And obviously the Democrats have been seen an opportunity here long before this race first actually judge to -- toyed with their run now a lot of money is flowing to undergone Grimes what's the state -- play down Aaron is -- realistic. The state of play in the race right now -- senator McConnell as a primary to deal it is running against -- -- a primary calendar from the right in a may primary and both -- expected he will that do well on that and win that primary and then the general election race has -- look. Mitch McConnell is definitely the favorite at this point in the rates is -- in. The senate or five firms running for a sixth term. But he knows -- Like other and on the the -- the country. -- not popular and back its approval rating. Is nearly as well here in Kentucky ads as president Obama's -- that is eight point curtain airbags quote the McConnell campaign is taking it very. And Jeff stay with us Abigail -- ask -- quick question there are a number of story lines in Kentucky right now of course wondered in Grimes challenging. Minority leader Mitch McConnell C but there's a chance McConnell won't be there to defend. Well -- you know. Think one of the problems -- Mitch McConnell is facing is this Tea Party challenger. But Matt -- and that is a businessman in Kentucky who's actually having a pretty tough time this past week. I think O'Connell campaign feels really confident that he's gonna make it through this primary pretty much unscathed. -- because of some of the issues that Babin has had in his campaign and and the sort of amateurish nature right which he's he's done some of the media up until this morning. It seems right now added Atlantic and Grimes would rather run against McConnell then -- -- Is that the case. Definitely I think the lender can Gramm's campaign it feels very very confident that when you put her up against Mitch McConnell. The contrast between the two become very much apparent. As Jeff mentioned she was in the first grade when Mitch McConnell was first elected to the senate. She's young she's a female and I think they believe that all of those things can really work to her benefit. Mitch McConnell is not a popular man in Kentucky right now. And she's campaigning as sort of -- middle of the road compromiser. And trying to paint Mitch McConnell as someone. Who it is incapable of doing the right thing in the senate. And Jeff want to go back to you you're at the -- house and Louisville. Mitt Romney won more than 60% of the vote in Kentucky in 2012 to Republican senators a Republican governor. How is -- that Bill Clinton is so popular down there I understand that they're actually more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state. Well let's talk Kentucky is -- -- -- speaking states across the south. Or lack. He or like the idiot Democrat -- -- -- Bill Clinton or -- the stated 1990 new and again in 1996. There are. Democratic protection spirit in crappy. The governor is -- Democrat supports but they're still -- in recent years it now rates and Republicans. Out one Allison Watergate -- trying to do a show that Democrats can still win here but interestingly. He's not asked. In -- if that's former President Bill Clinton the -- deeply popular here and he's not rubbed off. The Jeff I was going to ask you about Hillary Clinton of course you mentioned -- the family closeness that Lundgren family -- with. The Clinton family is there -- reason specific reason you think she's choosing Bill Clinton over Hillary. Top think that that is just in -- campaign mode right now to speak. Insulate -- Hillary Clinton actually has -- -- -- by inserts new Alice limited. Yet urged her to get into this race -- -- run for senate but I'm Christine you've been partner. Let me get a profit yet yet but he'll -- Clinton did not come down here before this campaign -- over. But there's no question one of the biggest in the Democratic Party it's Bill Clinton and that's why -- is picking up its when he -- -- Mid -- election campaign here in Kentucky and going to -- -- going to be seeing a lot of them over the next six or seven months. Inside eager to help Democrats controlled the senate anorexic going to hit the road map it's sort of about strategy -- its message or. How Democrats stick in front these difficult Edwin. -- get a bit at bay. I'm not that I am but what other Democrats do it but I don't buy it -- they without broad spirit Kentucky and across the country. Jeff thank you so much we're gonna let you get back to work as that speech gets ready to start. And I want to stick with -- just for a couple more questions -- give me an idea we were showing looking at a picture earlier. Of those routes with Alison longer and Grimes. She was actually presenting. The clintons back in 93 at the inauguration with bouquets of flowers of course President Clinton being. There inaugurated so it looks like these roots go way back what does that mean in what could that mean for the selection. They absolutely do go way back I mean Alice -- -- concurrence is just a little bit older than the clintons' daughter Chelsea Clinton. An 81 of her advisors said it to me that. She feels like Bill Clinton is something like an uncle figure to her I think that really talks speaks to the closeness of the families that's both political. And personal I think that both Hillary and Bill Clinton field. -- like they are invested in in her political future at -- would also suggested to me that perhaps. And he looks to her to carry on the legacy. Southern Democrats. You know in very red states where he was successful as Arkansas governor perhaps she can be successful. As a Democrat in a red state like Kentucky. -- it's not the first time Mitch McConnell has faced a tough challenge but this appears to be one of his toughest. He's obviously running for his sixth term give me an idea has his support been slipping. I think his support in the state has been at a low point for quite some time in part that has to do with the fact that you -- you -- in leadership in congress he's sort of take. -- and some of the negative approval ratings of that entire body -- congress' approval rating right now. Is basically -- -- a single digits and a lot of that has rubbed off. I'm Mitch McConnell. I think he's also facing -- divide within his own party where there are some. More conservative elements who are unhappy with him no matter what he does. So that it will but what he's trying to do in this race is what he's actually been doing in every other race that he's -- Which -- school which is promote the fact that he has seniority and that can. To be used to help can tolkien's. And can -- can me an idea what are some of the issues that Kentucky's voters will be looking at very hard no matter who they'll be voting for. Kentucky's are probably. As concerned as well as for the rest of the country with primarily the economy I mean I think that there are many parts of the state. That are still looking for the recovery is still wondering where it is. I'm I think that the health care -- it remains of as significant issue. And you can -- partly because it's something that Allison lender can rise as a Democrat. Doesn't really talk a whole lot about because the -- not particularly popular -- the other hand you hear Mitch McConnell talking about it quite a bit. Partly because it's a good issue for Republicans to run on. Eight it -- addresses some of the insecurity about the rising cost of health care. I think those two issues we'll continue to be at the forefront of this campaign but -- the health care Obama's health care plan doing well in Kentucky. I wouldn't it be it the -- exchange has actually been one of the few exchanges that have has been working in. In the democratic governor there went along with the plan to create his own exchange and that that has actually worked. On the other hand despite the fact that there are. A lot of Democrat registered Democrats in Kentucky the state is still quite conservative and I think there are definitely. -- a lot of concerns and that and that people are not. A 100% sold on the lot there just like they aren't in much of the rest of the -- Tree Abby Phillips thank you so much for joining and is joining us it's certainly sets up. Quiet an election year for Mitch McConnell first of all having -- go through his own GOP party and then. Possibly another democratic candidate thank you for joining us from Washington. -- and of course you can watch all of former president Bill Clinton's speech in Louisville streaming live right here on Set to begin a short time this has been an ABC news digital report. I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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