Al Roker slams ‘nitwit’ Kentucky governor for criticizing school closures in low temperatures

Meteorologist Al Roker tore into Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Thursday after he said America is “getting soft” for closing schools over record-breaking arctic temperatures in the Midwest.

Roker, a co-host of NBC's "Today," referenced Bevin’s remarks while giving MSNBC’s morning weather report describing the polar vortex that has plunged temperatures this week to as low as minus 20 degrees.

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“I just have to say, this nitwit governor in Kentucky, saying that ‘Oh, we’re weak,’” Roker said of Bevin’s comments. “These are kids who are going to be in subzero wind chill. No, cancel school. Stop it.”

“I’m glad you’re not a teacher,” Roker said, referring to the governor.

The Kentucky Republican faced backlash for his comments, made during an appearance on Terry Meiners's radio show

“There’s no ice going with it, or any snow,” Bevin said of the freezing temperatures. “I mean, what’s happened to America? We’re getting soft, Terry. We’re getting soft.”

The governor later backtracked during the interview, saying he was being "slightly facetious” and that “it’s better to err on the side of being safe.” 

He later expressed concern about what standard was being set for younger generations.

"It does concern me a little bit that, in America, on this and many other fronts, we're sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard,” he said. 

“And that just isn't reality. It isn't," Bevin continued. 

At least eight people have died across the country as a result of hypothermia and car accidents brought on by the polar vortex. Temperatures are expected to rise over the weekend. 

An 18-year-old student at the University of Iowa froze to death on Wednesday as temperatures plunged to around minus 21 degrees with windchills as low as minus 51 degrees. 

Chicago and other parts areas of the Midwest are expected to have some of the coldest days on record as the polar vortex brings temperatures typically seen in some of the globe’s coldest places, such as Antarctica, Mount Everest and Siberia.

Crews in the Windy City have been using fire along Chicago’s commuter railroad track to keep the switches from freezing over.