U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled his latest re-election ad Friday morning, focusing his fire on President Barack Obama and Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes over coal.
The television ad, titled "Different Direction," features McConnell and some coal workers blasting Obama for what his critics call the administration's "war on coal."
"Mr. President, you said you wanted to change America," McConnell says in the ad. "Well by golly, he has."
While repeatedly assailing Obama as harmful to the state's coal economy, the ad portrays McConnell as someone who is standing up to the president, using his seniority for leverage.
"Mitch McConnell does have the experience. You go up there with no experience, you go up there with nothing," says Brandon Stamper, who was identified as a coal worker in the ad.
Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst responded by accusing McConnell of failing to save coal jobs for three decades.
"No matter how many ads Mitch McConnell runs, he can't hide from the fact that he has failed to save a single coal job in his 30 years in Washington."
In writing on the screen, McConnell's ad claims that "Alison Lundergan Grimes supports Barack Obama's anti-coal environmental platform."
To support that claim, McConnell's campaign relies on the fact that Grimes was a delegate who voted for Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and said she supported his re-election platform.
However, Grimes has made clear in recent months that she objects to actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon-dioxide pollution from new and existing power plants.
"When I'm in the U.S. Senate, I will fiercely oppose the president's attack on Kentucky's coal industry because protecting our jobs will be my number one priority," Grimes said last month after the EPA issued new pollution regulations for existing power plants.
Although many Republicans blame Obama for the coal industry's decline in Eastern Kentucky, where half of the coal jobs have disappeared since 2011, industry analysts point to a variety of factors.
Environmental policies have played a role, but so have competition from low-priced natural gas and from coal from other parts of the country; the depletion of easy-to-reach reserves in Eastern Kentucky after a century of mining; and higher mining costs in the region.
McConnell's ad will air statewide, according to his campaign.
Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.