- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its 300,000 members pledged Friday to spend more money on U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election than on any other race in America.

“Whatever it takes,” Rob Engstrom, the chamber’s national political director, told reporters shortly after a news conference in Lexington announcing the chamber’s official endorsement.

Engstrom declined to say how much money the chamber planned to pour on the Senate minority leader, but the group has already spent more than half a million dollars on ads for McConnell dating to last summer, according to campaign finance records.

McConnell could use the help. He is facing well-funded opposition in May’s Republican primary from Matt Bevin. Groups like FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund — founded by former Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint in South Carolina and now run by one of his former lieutenants — has spent hundreds of thousands to support Bevin or oppose McConnell, according to campaign finance records.

Speaking at Whayne Supply in Lexington — owned by McConnell donor Monty Boyd — McConnell never mentioned Bevin. Instead, he called his Democratic challenger — Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — a “new face of the status quo.”

“She is the new face of the same current leader of the Senate who says coal makes him sick,” McConnell said.

He said she represents “the current majority of the Senate who guarantees the president never has to make a tough choice on anything,”

A spokeswoman for the Grimes campaign said it was “no surprise that Mitch McConnell called in the largest DC lobbying organization in the country for a photo op.

“What is surprising is that they forgot to bring him a jobs plan,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Rather than fighting for Kentucky’s middle-class families, Mitch McConnell continues to protect DC special interests, just as he has for the last 30 years.”

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