Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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April 24, 2014

Grimes goes on attack over McConnell jobs comment

GLASGOW — Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Alison Lundergan Grimes is castigating incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell for telling a Beattyville newspaper editor that it’s not his job to bring jobs to Lee County.

McConnell says the comments “got lost in translation,” and that “Encouraging positive economic development and job growth is at the center of what I do every day.”

But Edmund Shelby, the editor and general manager of the Beattyville Enterprise who wrote the story, said he “100 percent, completely” stands behind the story as it appeared on his paper’s front page on Thursday. He said his published account represented his conversation with McConnell “word for word.”

McConnell was in Beattyville to address a luncheon of Lee County business and civic leaders when Shelby briefly interviewed him prior to the lunch. According to Shelby’s story, he asked McConnell what he is doing to “bring jobs to Lee County.”

“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” McConnell said, according to the story. “That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet.”

Shelby goes on to report that McConnell said he’s interested in bringing public works projects to Kentucky but most of those are originated by state government. He quoted McConnell as saying he is “pushing back” against the policies of President Barack Obama which are hurting the coal industry.

The headline on the story read: “McConnell says not his job to bring jobs.”

McConnell said Thursday the headline is misleading.

“This April, I visited Lee County to talk about a top priority of mine: jobs,” McConnell said. “Unfortunately, my message got lost in transition, and I was surprised to see a headline about my visit that sent the exact opposite message to the one I was trying to convey.”

When the Grimes campaign saw Shelby’s story, it went on the attack.

“Can you believe he went to a county with an overall unemployment rate of 14 percent and looked those hard-working Kentuckians and tell them it’s not his responsibility?” Grimes said in a CNHI News interview Thursday. Grimes has campaigned on a written jobs plan and says her number one priority “is to put Kentuckians back to work.”

“A U.S. Senator can bring jobs to Kentucky,” Grimes said, by supporting programs to expand job training, education and tax policies which don’t reward companies which move jobs overseas.

She was speaking of a federal tax provision which allows companies to offset the costs of moving, whether moving operations from one state to another or off shore. Grimes said she wants to restrict the tax break only to relocation inside the country.

She says McConnell has voted to cut jobs training and education and voted to retain the tax break for companies relocating jobs. She said she will support an increase in the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work legislation, and job training.

McConnell said he supports federal policies “to improve the economy as a whole which in turn will help preserve and create Kentucky jobs.”

“These efforts include supporting an end to President Obama’s War on Coal and repealing job-killing Obamacare,” McConnell continued. “Along with Senator Rand Paul, I was proud to sponsor the Economic Freedom Zones Act, which would spur economic growth in areas such as eastern Kentucky.”

McConnell said he constantly travels the state, talking about expanding opportunities for local communities. He said constituents tell him government is blocking job creation but, “It’s up to all of us — at the federal, state, and local levels — to fix that. We must ensure that our utility and tax rates remain low and we must enact a right to work law. The better the atmosphere the state sets for job creators, the more effectively Kentucky can compete against other states to add and retain jobs.”

McConnell has consistently sought to tie Grimes to Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada who once said, “Coal makes us sick.” Grimes, however, has from the start of her campaign said she differs with Obama on coal and has actively sought support from coal country.

McConnell faces primary challenges from Louisville investment manager Matt Bevin and three minor candidates while Grimes is also facing three little known candidates, but each is heavily favored to win their party’s nomination and square off in the fall general election.

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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