By Jack Brammer
Kentucky congressional candidate Andy Barr assailed President Barack Obama’s coal policies during his speech Tuesday at the Republican National Convention.
Barr, a Lexington attorney who is in a rematch with Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat, said during his two-minute speech in Tampa that Obama does not care about the plight of coal miners who lost their jobs.
Barr made no mention of Chandler during his speech.
Chandler’s campaign did not comment on Barr’s remarks about coal but noted that Barr spoke in front of a backdrop of a picture of Louisville, which is not in the 6th Congressional District.
“It’s an insult to Lexingtonians, Wildcat fans and people all across the Bluegrass,” said Chandler campaign manager Eric Nagy. “Andy Barr and the Republican Party are so out of touch with Central Kentucky that they don’t even know the difference between Lexington and Louisville.
In a telephone interview, Barr said Chandler’s comments show that “he will only represent certain people while I, as a congressman from Kentucky, will represent all of Kentucky.”
Barr said he got to choose the focus of his speech. He did not select the backdrop.
“Beyond the rolling hills of the Bluegrass, within the depths of steep mountainsides, Kentuckians built a coal industry that powers America,” Barr said at the beginning of his speech. “But Barack Obama doesn’t care.”
Barr said coal provides Kentuckians with some of the lowest electricity costs in America, enabling Toyota to create a company with 7,000 jobs in Georgetown.
He claimed 2,000 coal miners this year have lost their jobs because of “over-regulations and Obama’s war on coal.”
Some analysts have said other factors contributed heavily to the layoffs, pointing to historically low prices for natural gas and the unseasonably warm winter of 2011-12, which left power plants with stockpiles of coal.
For every coal mining job lost, Barr said, three additional jobs are threatened, including those at Toyota.
“Rarely in history has one industry been so ruthlessly attacked with so little regard for the people it hurts,” Barr said.
Barr said he and Mitt Romney care about the jobs of coal miners.
Coal executives and their political action committees have contributed at least $40,000 to help fund Barr’s campaign.
He was one of several Republican congressional candidates who spoke on the opening day of the convention, shortened by one day by Hurricane Isaac.
Kentucky’s two Republican U.S. senators — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville and Rand Paul of Bowling Green — are to speak Wednesday evening during prime-time viewing.
McConnell is scheduled to address the convention between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Paul is to speak afterward.