Though Mitch McConnell’s opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, vowed last week that she would use a big fundraiser with Harry Reid to voice her disapproval of the EPA’s new coal regulations, leaked audio of the fundraiser reveals that Grimes avoided even mentioning the word “coal” in her remarks. The glaring omission will likely not play well on the campaign trail.
When Grimes was criticized last week for holding a fundraiser with the notoriously anti-coal Harry Reid, her spokesperson Charly Norton issued a statement insisting that the candidate would use the event to highlight her concerns about the new EPA regulations threatening to decimate Kentucky’s coal industry:
“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.”
However, as Politico’s Manu Raju and Burgess Everett point out, apparently afraid to roil Reid and a crowd of generally pro-administration funders, Grimes did not so much as mention the word "coal" in her 11-minute speech, sticking instead to the Democrat “partisan script.”
After the audio got out, critics challenged Grimes on the glaring omission. Grimes' campaign responded by questioning the authenticity of the recording and insisting that she did in fact bring up her arguments against the proposed EPA rules—but only did so in private conversations to Reid and some donors.
But even that assertion is in question: Politico reports that a Washington consultant at the event said there’s “no way” Grimes could have had a private conversation with Reid, as he arrived late and left before she did.
The EPA’s new heavily anti-coal regulations would devastate Kentucky. The decision to launch those right before the midterm elections has already put Grimes back on her heels. This new audio and apparent obfuscation is yet more ammo for incumbent Senate Minority Leader McConnell.
For her efforts at the fundraiser Grimes did get one big endorsement: Reid called her “the perfect candidate.” Whether Kentuckians thinks so will be answered soon enough.