COMPLETE COVERAGE: Mitch McConnell takes bus tour across the mountains

By: Nathan Lyttle, Morgan Lentes, Angela Sparkman, Erika Glover Email
By: Nathan Lyttle, Morgan Lentes, Angela Sparkman, Erika Glover Email
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U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers began a two-day tour of the region Thursday morning.

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PERRY Co., Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE: 08-07-14 11 p.m.

The Coal Country Bus Tour keeps rolling. Thursday evening Congressman Hal Rogers said President Obama wants Alison Lundergan Grimes, but Kentucky needs Senator Mitch McConnell.

This was said as McConnell and Rogers wrapped up the first day of their two-day bus tour through 10 counties in Eastern Kentucky.

We spoke with voters at the final stop at the Rental Pro shop in Hazard.

The shop's owner, Douglas Jones, said regardless of your party affiliation the race for U.S. Senate is crucial.

"The man is what matters," said Jones. "The message is what matters and it doesn't matter if you're Democrat, Republican, black or white."

Dee Messer was there Wednesday when McConnell's opponent, Grimes, made headlines with her presidential guest Bill Clinton. She is pulling for McConnell.

"I think there is a 99% chance that he will be back in office," Messer said.

Messer said it would be difficult if Grimes defeated the 30 year incumbent.

"I can't speak for the community, but I can speak for me and my family," said Messer. "It will be a very hard time for us, but I'm sure like we have in the past we will pick up and go on, but I hope that does not happen."

Congressman Hal Rogers said this is one of the biggest races in the nation.

"We're talking about reelecting the man who will become the majority leader of the Senate," Rogers said.

McConnell said voters must push back against the Obama administration.

"People forget that coal jobs were up during the Bush years," McConnell said. "There's one reason there's a depression in Eastern Kentucky, Barack Obama. The last thing he needs is another supporter in the U.S. Senate."

Grimes said Wednesday that she was the pro-coal candidate in the race. It will be up to voters to decide in November.
Coal operators and others react to Senator Mitch McConnell's speech in Middlesboro
By Angela Sparkman, August 7, 2014, 6:00pm

When the doors opened at the event in Bell County, the line stretched down the driveway of people going in who wanted to meet Senator Mitch McConnell and support his re-election campaign.

Some people in the crowd told us the future of coal is what is at stake in this election.

Bell County's own Jimmy Rose sang "Coal Keeps the Lights On" to the crowd in Middlesboro at the Combs Group Phillips building.

He was just one person in the crowd supporting Senator Mitch McConnell for re-election.

Many others in the crowd either work in the mines or are connected to the coal industry in some way.

"Everyone here wants to know he still cares. They want to know he's going to come out here and ask for their votes," said Anita Miller who lives in Middlesboro.

Speaking in a building where mining and industrial equipment is repaired, Senator McConnell says he does care for miners and will continue his fight against what he calls the war on coal in Washington D.C.

After the speeches, State Senator Robert Stivers (R) told us, "It goes across the state because even though we produce the feedstock, the price of energy will affect every citizen in this state."

"I think we need to support the Senator and support the economy and he's going to do that. It would not be smart to remove someone in power that this man has in Washington," said Milton Brooks, CEO of Pineville Community Hospital.

Coal operators who attended the event say the coalfield's future depends on this election.

"Our people of Appalachia are suffering from this and I think we need, summing it up, a more common sense approach into our industry and what's looked at," said Clyde Burchette, a coal operator for 32 years.

They believe Senator McConnell can bring that approach if he is re-elected.

Senator McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers are speaking to more people in the coal industry in other cities on their tour through Eastern Kentucky.
McConnell & Rogers go on offensive against Grimes
By: Morgan Lentes August 7, 2014 6:00 p.m.

It’s unlike any race we have seen in recent years, political heavyweights paying attention to small communities across Eastern Kentucky.

Senator Mitch McConnell knows his opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes made headlines on Wednesday with her presidential guest Bill Clinton. But he says he's not worried.

McConnell said in a speech earlier “Bill Clinton always comes to town when I run, he hasn't succeeded in knocking me off yet and I think the important thing to remember is he agrees with the president on all of these EPA regulations.”

It's a message he repeated at each stop of his Coal Country Bus Tour…devoting most of his energy to criticizing what he believes to be President Obama's failed policies. He said, “It’s been bad for our country but it's been particularly bad for The Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Along for the ride is Congressman Hal Rogers. He says he supports McConnell because he's the right man to lead Kentucky forward. “A lot of things that have happened in our district would not have happened without his help. So we owe him a lot, but that's before he was majority leader. As majority leader he can do a lot more.”

McConnell rarely mentioned Grimes by name but made sure to link her with what he calls "the status quo". He said, “My opponent is certainly a new face. But she's a new face for no change at all. A new face for the same Senate. A vote for Barack Obama and a vote for Harry Reid, the current Majority Leader of the Senate.”

The bus tour made stops from Corbin to Whitesburg, and several places in between.
As with yesterday…these campaign stops were made in front of very supportive audiences.
McConnell tells us it was important for him to visit hard hit Eastern Kentucky.
Mitch McConnell takes a bus tour to generate votes in Eastern Kentucky
By: Morgan Lentes August 7, 2014 4:00 p.m.

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT)- The battle for votes in the coalfields, just one day removed from former President Bill Clinton's attempt to boost support for Alison Lundergan Grimes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers hit the road on their "Coal Country Bus Tour."

The 30 year senator wants to keep his seat another six years, in hopes he might become the head man in the Senate. The tour featured six stops in several hours through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
Mitch McConnell said, “We're emphasizing the president's war on coal because it's the biggest issue in the state.”

From Corbin to Middlesboro and all the way to Hazard, Senator McConnell along with representative Hal Rogers spent the day campaigning on a promise to reign in EPA regulations. McConnell told us, “We're going to try to restrict their money and their activities to get them off of our backs and out of our coal fields

Congressmen Rogers says this election is crucial because of what's at stake. “It's too important for me to sit at home. I mean I want to see this man to be reelected because it means he'll be the majority leader in the U.S. Senate.”

McConnell is focused on stopping what he calls the “War on Coal”. “The issue is how do you stop it and the only thing that can be achieved in 2014 is make me the new leader of the majority in the Senate to begin to take America in a different direction.”

Both men believe that would give them a chance to stop what they consider President Obama's attempts to turn the U.S. into a "Western European" country.

Now coming up at six…you'll hear McConnell’s reaction to former President Bill Clinton's stop in hazard yesterday.
Local folks and leaders react to McConnell’s bus tour
By: Angela Sparkman August 7, 2014 4:00 p.m.

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT)- Enthusiastic crowds greeted Senator Mitch McConnell at each of his stops across Southeastern Kentucky. He has framed a message linking his challenger to President Obama, whose approval rating in Kentucky is just 34 percent.

McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers spoke at the Combs Group-Philips Building in Middlesboro surrounded by mining equipment. Many in the audience either work in the mining industry or are connected to the coal industry in some way. They told us they liked what they heard.

The senator spoke in the building where mining and industrial equipment is repaired, among workers and family members who say their jobs and way of life are on the line with this election.

Anita Miller lives in Middlesboro and says, “I’m afraid if someone else gets elected. I'm not afraid if he gets elected. I'm afraid if someone if someone else gets elected because they might stand behind Obama and that's the reason we're in this position we're in now.”

Clyde Burchett a coal operator spoke of the impacts he believes Obama’s policies are having on the region. “Of course you're seeing the effects of it. It reaches a point you don't know what to do.”

Cheers rang out in the crowd each time Congressman Hal Rogers and Senator Mitch McConnell promised to fight for coal in congress and against the EPA in Washington. Those in the audience say they liked the senator's plan for the future for coal if he is re-elected.

Republican State Senator Robert Stivers is firmly in McConnell’s corner. He told us, “The only way to respond to the president, the EPA, and the current administration is to be out in support of Senator McConnell.”

And Bell County's own Jimmy Rose sang to people who told us they need Senator McConnell to stay in Washington D.C. and fight to make sure, "coal keeps the lights on."

Senator McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers are planning to meet with more in the coal industry on this tour of Eastern Kentucky.
Original Story: August 7, 2014 11:45 a.m.

We are on the air to bring you live coverage of the Team Mitch Coal Country Bus Tour.
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman Hal Rogers began a two-day tour of the region this morning. They started at Whayne Supply in Corbin, then went to Cumberland Valley Electric in Gray and are now in Middlesboro at The Combs Group. Singer Jimmy Rose sang at this stop. McConnell and Rogers will then go to Harlan, Whitesburg and Hazard today and also have four stops tomorrow.
This comes just one day after McConnell's opponent in November, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, brought in former President Bill Clinton to campaign for her in Lexington and Hazard.

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