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Kentucky governor says U.S. "soft" on school closures as polar vortex grips nation

Polar vortex delivers 3rd sub-zero cold day

As much of the nation sees record freezing cold temperatures, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin criticized the country for "getting soft" for closing schools because of the dangerous winter weather.  CBS affiliate WKYT reports that Bevin made the comment during an interview with radio station WHAS' Terry Meiners. 

"Now, we cancel school for cold, I mean — " Bevin said. "It's deep freeze; this is serious business," Meiners countered.

"Come on, now," Bevin said. "There's no ice going with it or any snow. What happens to America? We're getting soft, Terry, we're getting soft."

Bevin fears the school closures could send the wrong message to students.

"It does concern me a little bit that in America, on this and many other fronts, we're sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard, and that just isn't reality. It isn't," Bevin said.

The Republican's remarks drew an immediate backlash. At least nine deaths have so far been connected to the polar vortex. Weatherman Al Roker from NBC's "Today Show" slammed Bevin on air, calling him a "nitwit" for making such remarks.

"These are kids who are going to be in subzero wind chill. No, cancel school. Stop it," said Roker. 

Bevin later blamed the press for the negative reaction to his comments, tweeting that members of the media "continue to rush out like blind lemmings...cutting and pasting quotes in order to mislead and elicit outrage from the hyper-sensitive and easily fooled."

Bevin also referenced former President Obama's own comments about questionable school closures in Washington during his time in office. "As my children pointed out in Chicago, school is never cancelled," Obama joked about the rush to close schools in the area during snowfall back in 2009. 

Temperatures across the upper Midwest feel like the negative 50s, when factoring in wind chill. For a second day, the U.S. Postal Service is suspending mail delivery in parts of six states and energy companies are asking customers, including major automakers, to dial back their use of natural gas.

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