McConnell kicks off coal country tour poking fun at Clinton visit and talking coal jobs

08/07/2014 03:06 PM

CORBIN – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell began his two-day, 10 county, Team Mitch Coal Country Bus Tour on Thursday morning in Corbin with a message of influence being at Kentucky’s aide when it comes to the coal industry.

McConnell chose to poke fun at former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned with Grimes Wednesday in Hazard, Kentucky.

The senator, who has been in Washington nearly 30 years, told the crowd he has a long history with the Clintons and of beating the candidates they come to Kentucky to campaign for.

“You know, the Clintons, they go on just keep coming back. In fact, Hillary was in Hazard the day before the election in 2008 and I carried Perry County,” McConnell said. “So, come on back.”

McConnell charged that President Clinton was a close ally of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and backed the regulations which have cost thousands of coal jobs in the state.

“These people are against everything that we stand for,” McConnell said. “They’re against our way of life and we’re going to stop them.”

Grimes told campaign crowds in Lexington and Hazard on Wednesday that she was the pro-coal candidate in the race because of the coal jobs lost during McConnell’s tenure in Washington. But the Kentucky’s senior Senator said the one person to blame for the loss of jobs is President Barack Obama.

“The reason coal employment is down is because of Barack Obama and no effort to change that is going to work,” McConnell said.

When asked if there was more that he could have done in the Senate to protect the coal industry, McConnell blamed the Democrat controlled Senate.

“Harry Reid, who says coal makes you sick, would not let any efforts of Congress to block these regulations go forward,” McConnell said.

McConnell, who is campaigning against Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, is being joined on the tour by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, who echoed McConnell’s message of influence.

Rogers told the crowd their choice was between a first time senator who would get nothing done or a potential Majority Leader of the Senate if the Republicans are successful in flipping the U. S. Senate.

“Do you want a freshman senator that can’t do anything, even if she wanted to, or would you rather have a senior spokesman for the national party, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate in Kentucky’s corner?” Rogers said.

In response to the events, the Grimes campaign said in a statement that McConnell’s record speaks for itself.

“One day after over 1,000 Kentuckians joined Alison Lundergan Grimes and President Bill Clinton in coal country, Mitch McConnell is struggling to play catch-up. His 30 year Washington record of failing to stand up for our coal miners and retirees and his shocking admission that he does not believe it’s his job to bring jobs to Kentucky remain a serious drag on his campaign,” Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst said in a statement.

In addition to Corbin in Whitley County, McConnell and Rogers made stops in Knox, Bell, Harlan, Letcher and Perry counties Thursday.

The tour will conclude Friday with stops in Knott, Pike, Martin and Johnson counties.


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