- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) - Campaigning in conservative northern Kentucky, Hillary Rodham Clinton urged voters on Saturday to oust Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell because “our country cannot continue to reward the dividers.”

Traditionally a Republican stronghold, northern Kentucky was the source for many of the votes against McConnell in the Republican primary. That has prompted Grimes to campaign heavily there in an attempt to capitalize on that anti-McConnell sentiment and cut into what is expected to be large margin for Senate minority leader on election day.

Making her second trip to Kentucky this election cycle, Clinton portrayed McConnell as someone who values party principles above the state’s interests.

“This is not just a contest between a permanent Washington fixture and a fresh face. It is a contest between old thinking and new thinking,” Clinton told more than 1,000 people at Northern Kentucky University. “We need to reward the uniters, the people who care about everybody.”

That message resonated with 45-year-old Tanya Bartlett, a northern Kentucky voter who has voted for McConnell several times over the course of his 30-year career. But that changed in 2010, when McConnell announced his top priority was to make sure President Barack Obama did not see a second term.

“You’re not actually, truly representing the people of your state when you say something like that,” Bartlett said, who has since changed her voter registration to the Democratic Party.

But with polls showing Obama’s approval rating in Kentucky as low as 30 percent, voters like Bartlett could be in the minority. Across the country, Republicans are making a strong push to seize control of the Senate and make McConnell the chamber’s majority leader. McConnell said voters will have a chance to weigh in on Obama’s energy policies that he said have cost thousands of jobs in eastern Kentucky and thrown the region into a depression.

“We’ve had a tutorial on big government liberalism,” McConnell said. “We know it doesn’t work.”

The U.S. economy flexed some muscle in the most recent quarter, however, with an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent from July through September that outpaced most of the developed world.

Calling the election “a referendum on the future,” Clinton stressed Grimes’ support of raising the minimum wage, protecting Kentucky’s expanded health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act and fighting against wage discrimination for women.

“The voters of Kentucky have a chance not just to send a message, but to alter the course of politics and government,” Clinton said. “Ultimately this election comes down to this question: Who is on your side?”

Schreiner reported from Louisville, Kentucky.

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