The Clintons entered the Mountain State, and it was not pretty. The reception has been described as anything but fantastic. That’s probably because Hillary Clinton pretty much assured that she was going to ruin the livelihoods of West Virginians, whose communities have been centered on the coal industry. As Cortney and Katie wrote recently, the former first lady has been leading a weird, almost counterproductive, march against coal.
During a Democratic town hall event, she proudly said, “we're going to put a lot of coal miners out of business.” Former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that this statement was awkward, while the Cook Report’s David Wasserman said this sounded like a sound bite from a candidate who is trying to lose Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Regardless, the reception of the Clintons has been described as “lukewarm,” with her facing a “tough crowd” due to her remarks that she’s ready to take the lead in the war on coal, which began under the Obama administration. It’s got to the point where a local might receive some votes from West Virginia Democrats due to Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ remarks on climate change, alternative energy, and destroying coal (via Metro News):
Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said he was “disappointed” that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin had endorsed Clinton.
In the fight for coal, “Earl Ray’s been right with us and I don’t doubt that he’s continuing to be with us. I just worry about him lending his credibility and great name and track record to a candidacy that seems to be just a continuation of what the Obama Administration’s done,” Raney said.
During a Monday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline,” Raney went so far as to name another presidential candidate for Democrats to consider during the May 10 primary election, and it was not U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), who has said, “We must make significant reductions in carbon emissions and break our dependence on fossil fuels.”
“If they’ve got to vote for a Democrat in the primary, then Paul Farrell is certainly a viable candidate,” Raney said of the Huntington attorney, 43, whose name is on the ballot.
“He knows West Virginia values. He knows what needs to happen here and he knows he isn’t going to win the national scene, but it would send an awfully good message, I think, for the people say, ‘Hey, we vote for Paul Farrell here on the first ballot at the convention.'”
Can you blame them? If this war on coal continues, West Virginians can expect their energy bills to rise 20 percent. That’s bound to torpedo home budgets, especially in communities where the cannibalization of mining jobs has decimated the townsfolk. As Cortney pointed out, it’s no wonder why West Virginians are scratching their heads over a woman, who’s already a bad campaigner, who tells them she’s going to torch their livelihoods, but also says she will fight for their interests in Washington. The Associated Press reported on a blunt exchange between the coal miner and the former secretary of state:
Hillary Clinton faced some angry voters Monday during a campaign swing through West Virginia, a state that overwhelmingly backed her eight years ago in her primary fight against then-Sen. Barack Obama.
Bo Copley, an unemployed coal worker, asked Clinton why voters should believe her pledge to help revitalize the region's economy during a stop at a health center in Williamson.
"Still supporting her hurts you," he told Sen. Joe Manchin, who joined Clinton at the small round-table event. "It's not a good outlook here."
Clinton released a $30 billion plan last fall aimed at aiding communities dependent on coal production and she's promised that her husband would focus on revitalizing the region.
Her efforts haven't been helped by a remark she made in a March interview with CNN, when she said she would "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." She was responding to a question about how her policies would benefit poor white people in southern states.
Copley asked, "How you could say you are going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs and then come in here and tell us how you're going to be our friend?"
Clinton called the comment a "misstatement."
"I can't take it back, and I certainly can't get people who, for political reasons or personal reasons, very painful reasons, are upset with me," she said. "I want you to know I'm going to do whatever I can to help no matter what happens politically."
She added, "Whether or not West Virginia supports me, I'm going to support you."
Oh, c’mon, lady. It doesn’t take a genius to see that $30 billion isn’t going to be enough to help these people if that is your intention. Re-sowing the socioeconomic fabric in these towns is going to take time, possibly generations. For some, it’s already too late. If the Democrats win the war on coal, 125,800 jobs will be gutted, with $650 billion in lost economic activity over a ten-year period. Is $30 billion going to be enough to make up for those losses? And this just doesn’t apply to West Virginia, but for Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other coal-producing states as well. It’s insulting to think that Clinton’s “hey, sorry I screwed you over” economic package to soon-to-be ex-coal workers will be anything but adequate.
Even Bill got some jeers at a campaign rally over his wife's comments about coal (via the Hill):
“I want you to send me to West Virginia,” he said during an event in Logan, W.Va., describing a conversation with the Democratic presidential front-runner. "I want you to send me to those Native American reservations out there where those good people have nothing because they don’t have gambling. I want you to send me to any place in America that feels left out and left behind. That’s what I want to do.”
Hecklers greeted the former chief executive’s remarks with jeers.
“This is where they start screaming because they don’t want to hear this,” Bill Clinton said as the protesters apparently left the venue.
“The difference between us and them is that we listen to them,” he added.
Circling back to Hillary, what’s more disconcerting is this notion that she cares. Mrs. Clinton and her team know that the state isn’t going Democratic this year. The last time West Virginia went blue was 1996. Mitt Romney won every single county in 2012. This state has shifted more to the right since 2000, and even Republicans trounced pro-coal Democrats, like Natalie Tennant who ran for the outgoing Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s U.S. Senate seat, in the 2014 midterms. No one really trusts the national Democratic apparatus here, and they certainly do not like President Barack Obama. So, yes, there’s a primary on May 10. She has to try to win some support—and surprise, surprise, it was a total disaster. We shouldn’t be shocked if Sanders manages to win here. After all, a Sanders presidency might be the best thing for the coal industry.
I'll close by reiterating another known fact about Clinton--she's untrustworthy. Again, she promised to deliver the death blow to coal, and now she wants it to be a thriving sector of the U.S. economy. She's a liar, though I know that's not news. But her shameless side is on display here–and it's quite explicit. Don't be fooled West Virginians - the Clintons couldn't care less about you.