McConnell responds to Stumbo's 'rhetoric' and Democrats' claims of broken promises

01/17/2014 04:15 PM

LEXINGTON — While largely ignoring Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’ policy speech, Kentucky Republicans spent Friday trying to put the focus on a controversial statement House Speaker Greg Stumbo made at the event.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, compared the U.S. Senate race to the liberation of Europe at the end of World War II. Stumbo never used the word “Nazi,” but Republicans pounced on the comparison and demanded an apology.

The comments Stumbo made were part of his introduction of Grimes before her first policy speech since she entered the race in July of 2013.

McConnell told reporters on Friday that the remarks illustrate the level to which Democrats will go to win.

“It just shows the lengths to which they’re prepared to descend in order to try to win the election,” McConnell said. “I don’t think that kind of rhetoric is helpful at all.”

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth told reporters in the state Capitol after filing his re-election paperwork that he “probably wouldn’t have said that.”

“One of the things that was reported about what Speaker Stumbo said… that this commonwealth has been held back by antiquated thinking, and I think the comments that Alison made and her agenda for diversifying the economy – particularly in Eastern Kentucky are very important things…they sound trite, but these are the things that Mitch McConnell has been voting to cut,” Yarmuth said.

The remark Stumbo made on Thursday is not the first time Stumbo has made controversial statements about U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. In 2008, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Stumbo called into question McConnell’s military discharge from the Army reserve in 1967, saying a person would have only gotten released from the Army during war if “you know somebody or unless you did something real bad.” McConnell’ discharged for optic neuritis.

Speaking to reporters after addressing the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association and the Council for Burley Tobacco in Lexington, McConnell also responded to Harlan County Magistrate David Kennedy who said McConnell promised jobs and new roads when he first ran for U.S. Senate in 1984 and didn’t deliver.

And McConnell responded in part with a pitch for his pro-coal policies.

“Ask anybody in the coal business whether McConnell has been an effective friend of coal all these years and they’ll tell you they’ve had no better friend. It’s pretty clear who the enemy is it’s the Obama administration,” McConnell said.

In 2013 coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky coal jobs fell to the lowest recorded number since the inception of coal job record keeping in 1927.

Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers spear headed the SOAR conference in December to come up with solutions to the decades of poverty and job losses in the Eastern Kentucky region. McConnell held his own listening session the Friday before the summit with the focus on coal.

McConnell did not attend the conference. But he told Pure Politics Friday that “it was important — it was about the future.”

“My view is it’s important to plan for the future, but also not to give up on the present,” McConnell said. “There was very little mentioned at the SOAR hearing about the present.”

Watch the video above to see what McConnell has to say about his vote against the omnibus budget bill and if he feels reforms to the National Security Agency are warranted.


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