Did Alison Grimes Have ‘Strong Words’ with Harry Reid about Obama’s War on Coal?

by Greg Pollowitz

Maybe, but not while standing next to Harry Reid in front of donors. In fact, coal never even came up at her big fundraiser with the majority leader:

Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign insisted last week that she’d use a high-dollar fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a forum to promote Kentucky’s coal industry and demand action to protect the use of fossil fuel.

That didn’t happen, according to an audio recording of the 45-minute affair obtained by POLITICO through a source at the event.

Instead, when the Kentucky Democrat spoke at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill last Thursday, she stuck to a partisan script, railing against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s record on jobs, the minimum wage and women’s issues.

The one word she didn’t say during her 11-minute speech: “coal.”

“Make no mistake, the hill that we are climbing … it is steep, but I will continue to run circles in my heels around Mitch McConnell,” Grimes told the donors, who paid as much as $2,600 a plate to attend. “It is going to take a nation to help Kentucky rise up to do this, and Alison’s army. And as I look out today, amongst the quality that is here, Leader Reid, I know this is the army that will help to get it done.”

It’s a notable omission for a campaign that went out of its way last week to say that Grimes would “use the event” to raise concerns about environmental rules that are unpopular in Kentucky. After she was criticized for holding a fundraiser with Reid — whose views against coal are unpopular in her state — her campaign said the event would offer a chance to highlight opposition to newly proposed rules from the Environmental Protection Agency to dramatically cut carbon emissions.

Now for the she-did-say/she-didn’t-say: Grimes’s campaign told Politico the “strong words” with Reid were in private, but Politico adds:

A Washington consultant who attended the event said “there is no way” Grimes could have privately had a discussion with Reid at the event because he arrived late and left before the Kentuckian.

And for what it’s worth, The Hill spoke with Reid’s office and “confirmed the substance of the conversation, but no independent verification was available.”

Whatever version of events is true, Grimes is worried about the EPA and that’s not going away.