Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is taking fire from his Democratic Senate opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes for comments he made to a local news outlet that Kentucky economic development is “not my job.”
“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” McConnell said, according to the paper. “That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet.”
McConnell added that while he’s interested in bringing public works projects to Kentucky, “most comes from the state,” and that his efforts to protect jobs largely center on his work “pushing back” against President Obama’s policies that hurt the coal industry.
Grimes released a jobs plan earlier this year and has made it a central part of her campaign, hammering McConnell for failing to release his own.
The senator’s comments offered Grimes a proof point to that attack, and in a statement she called McConnell’s comments “reprehensible” and declared that “creating good-paying jobs for Kentuckians and growing our middle class will be my top priorities” if elected senator.
“It is reprehensible that Mitch McConnell believes that it is not his job to help Kentucky families who are struggling to make ends meet. This latest shock from Senator McConnell reinforces the fact that the only job he cares about is his own,” she said.
The Grimes campaign is planning to blast the front page of the Beattyville Enterprise out on social media on Friday.
McConnell has said the local reporter took his comments out of context, and in clarifying the comments asserted that jobs are a “top priority” of his.
“This April, I visited Lee County to talk about a top priority of mine: jobs. Unfortunately, it seems my message got lost in translation, 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,” he said.
He added: “Encouraging positive economic development and job growth is at the center of what I do every day. At the federal level I support policies to try to improve the economy as a whole which in turn will help preserve and create Kentucky’s jobs.”
McConnell said those policies include battling Obama’s policies that impact the coal industry, repealing ObamaCare and moving the Economic Freedom Zones Act, a bill he sponsored along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to help reinvigorate impoverished communities.
Edmund Shelby, the editor and general manager of the Beattyville Enterprise who wrote the story, told CNHI News Service that he “100 percent, completely” stands by the story and that it represents his interview with McConnell “word for word.”
McConnell is heavily favored to defeat his primary challenger, but expected to face a tough battle to retain his seat against Grimes in the general election this fall.