Hillary Clinton faced down fire from an out-of-work coal miner during a campaign stop in West Virginia, who said her vow to put the coal companies “out of business” was out of line.
Clinton, in March at a CNN forum, said: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She made the remark in context of discussing clean and renewable energy, and how to bring such industries to West Virginia.
But the comment struck hard to many, particularly to those whose jobs have been shuttered due to President Obama’s clean energy policies and ensuing crackdowns on coal-fueled power.
At this week’s rally, attendee Bo Copley, who was laid off from his position in the coal industry, said to Clinton: “I just want to know how you can say you’re 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, because those people out there don’t see you as a friend.”
Clinton, who stood by Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin during the event, said her remarks were a “misstatement,” and that she’s actually been a friend of coal country “for a very long time,” she said.
“What I was saying is that the way things are going now, we will continue to lose jobs,” she said. “That’s what I meant to say and I think that that seems to be supported by the facts. I didn’t mean that we were going to do it, what I said was, that is going to happen unless we take action to try to and help prevent it.”
Manchin, meanwhile, defended Clinton.
He said, Fox News reported: “If I thought that was in her heart, if I thought she wanted to eliminate one job in West Virginia, I wouldn’t be sitting here. I think Hillary knows that. She wouldn’t be here if she felt that way.”
The Republican National Committee said Clinton’s representations of her comments as a “misstatement” defied truth.
“If Hillary Clinton really stood with coal country, she’d be calling on the Obama EPA to stop taking a wrecking ball to their way of life,” RNC spokesman Michael Short said, Fox News reported. “Given her steadfast support for Obama’s war on coal, her promise to ‘put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business’ may have been one of the few honest moments she’s had this entire campaign.”
Democatic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN during an interview on “New Day” on Tuesday, meanwhile, Clinton wasn’t backtracking on her coal industry comments, but merely clarifying.
“In saying she made a misstatement, I don’t think she was backtracking on the substance of what she said,” Wasserman Schulz said. “When you say something that comes out in a hurtful way, you want to make sure that people understand that you still care about them, that you’re not just discarding them or don’t care … Good for her for sitting down with people who really are deeply concerned about how their jobs and their industry is going to transition as we try to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change.”