The campaign war over coal rages on in the Kentucky Senate race, with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and a pro-Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) group launching new ads on Wednesday.
Grimes chastises President Obama for his energy policies in a new radio ad, her latest effort to tout her defense of Kentucky’s coal industry, and distance herself from Obama's policies. And Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a group backing McConnell, launched a television ad pushing back on that effort by tying her to President Obama.
Grimes' new ad is part of a campaign that launched last week, the same day the Obama administration proposed new Environmental Protection Agency rules requiring existing coal plants to cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, a move Republicans and the industry have described as a war on coal.
“Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years. Now your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve. It’s clear you have no idea how this affects Kentucky,” Grimes says in the new ad.
“I approved this message and, Mr. President ... you’ll be hearing it a lot more when I’m in the Senate,” Grimes says.
She also knocks her opponent, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), for comments he made to a local paper that economic development in the state is “not my job.” McConnell later said the comments were taken out of context.
The radio ad follows a newspaper ad out last week in which Grimes pledged to “oppose anyone who works against Kentucky’s coal industry.”
McConnell's campaign hit back, noting that Grimes had long supported Obama during his presidency.
"It is a fact that Alison Lundergan Grimes lined up as a delegate behind Barack Obama after he announced he would wage a war on coal and said nothing as thousands of Kentuckians lost their jobs. Her belated concern about the war on coal now that she's a candidate, after helping to ensure it by backing Obama, is insulting and transparently political," said Allison Moore, McConnell's spokeswoman.
The KOL ad, which is backed by a significant $575,000 buy, hits the same notes.
"Grimes was silent as Obama attacked coal…and she endorsed his re-election, fully supporting Obama’s liberal platform," a narrator says in the ad. "She talks tough now but Alison Grimes is for Obama, not Kentucky.”
McConnell's allies have been pointing to Grimes' campaign donors, some of whom have reportedly pushed for stronger environmental protections like the EPA rule, as evidence she won't go to bat for Kentucky's coal country. But McConnell has received campaign funds from donors who've taken similar positions.
Grimes will join Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for a fundraiser Thursday, another move that's given Republicans an opening for attack, as Reid once declared that "coal makes us sick" and supports environmental protections that could hurt the industry. But her spokeswoman, Charly Norton, said she plans to address her issues with the rule when she meets with Reid.
"Alison is absolutely livid about the new rule and plans to use the event to share the stories of how Kentuckians are hurting and demand that the Senate take action to invest in clean coal technology," Norton said.
—This piece was updated at 1:12 p.m.