U.S. Senate hopeful Trey Grayson portrayed his main Republican rival Monday as a "grandstander" who could lose sight of Kentucky in favor of the tea party movement as candidates made their final push before the state's primary election Tuesday.
During a stop in Louisville as part of a trip around of Kentucky, Grayson characterized GOP Senate front-runner Rand Paul as "clearly overconfident." Grayson, Kentucky's secretary of state, said large numbers of undecided Republican voters were moving toward him as he predicted an election night surprise.
"We feel confident about tomorrow," Grayson said. "... I've been around a lot of final weeks in campaigns in Kentucky, and I can tell you this is a campaign that's definitely peaking at the right time."
Paul, an eye doctor making his first run for office, had campaign appearances planned Monday in Paducah in western Kentucky and in his hometown of Bowling Green.
Paul, the son of Texas congressman and former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, said Sunday in an interview with The Associated Press that the mood of the country and the Republican Party are in his favor. Paul has tapped into an antiestablishment mood that has been a drag for Grayson, who is backed by much of the state GOP establishment, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and is in his second term in office.
Grayson said the tea party movement has become potent, but said that when counted against the overall Republican turnout, "it's not a huge percentage when you get right down to it."
In a direct jab at Paul, Grayson said his rival would be "a grandstander" more concerned about the national stage, adding that "there's some real question about whether he'll lose sight of Kentucky."
"I'm not running to be the candidate of the tea party," Grayson said. "I'm running to be the candidate of this Republican Party of Kentucky."
Grayson also played up Paul's lack of political experience, saying Republican voters were looking to elect someone with "a track record of implementing commonsense, conservative reforms."
Grayson spent Sunday campaigning in heavily Republican southeastern Kentucky, while Paul's only public appearance was attending church with his family in Bowling Green.
Grayson said that Paul's lack of campaigning on Sunday "does show some overconfidence."
"It's almost like he's picked out his home in (Washington) D.C. before the election's even been held," Grayson said. "Win or lose, I think it's a bad campaign strategy."
The two leading Democratic Senate candidates in Kentucky are Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and state Attorney General Jack Conway, who appeared locked in a close race. Mongiardo barely lost six years ago to Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring after two terms.
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