Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 17, 2014

Campaigns keep pounding on ‘coal wars’

FRANKFORT — The “coal wars” continued to be front and center in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate Tuesday with ads by each side touting their support or criticizing the other for a lack of support for the industry.

On Tuesday, the campaign of Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes released a two minute, 41-second web video featuring former coal miners in southeastern Kentucky saying Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell hadn’t done enough to help them.

The ad seizes on a comment McConnell made to the Beattyville Enterprise in response to a question about what he could do to boost employment in the region. The paper quoted McConnell as saying that isn’t his job.

McConnell has said his comments were “lost in translation.”

The web video also shows Grimes seated around a table with residents of Lee County and Beattyville asking them what they thought about McConnell’s comments and whether they thought the current minimum wage is enough. Grimes has called for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour over three years.

One of the former coal miners in the ad said it needs to be raised. Later a man, who identifies himself as a Republican, said he decided he couldn’t vote for McConnell after the quote about it not being a senator’s job to bring jobs to the region.

Meanwhile, The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a SuperPAC supporting McConnell and advised by former McConnell aide Scott Jennings, put up a television ad entitled “Caught” which tries to capitalize on a tape of Grimes speaking to a Washington, D.C. fundraiser hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Prior to the event, Grimes said she’d use the event to share stories about what the federal EPA environmental policies are doing to Kentucky mining families. But she doesn’t mention coal on the tape, a fact seized upon by McConnell’s campaign.

In the 30-second TV ad by Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, the narrator says, “Alison just got caught in a big lie.” He goes onto to say Grimes promised to talk about coal to donors at the event but, “Grimes didn’t mention coal, not one word. Alison Grimes talks tough in Kentucky. But she’s two-faced. Behind closed doors in Washington — and when it counts — she doesn’t fight for Kentucky.”

Both Grimes and Reid have said they spoke about coal both before and after the event, but the Grimes campaign doesn’t dispute the accuracy of the tape of comments she made during the event and during which she talked about McConnell but not about coal.

Jennings said the ad will run from June 17 through June 27 for a total buy of $500,000.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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